Tropics Tracker: 2021 hurricane season poised to run out of names

New supplemental list replaces Greek alphabet in the event more names are needed

ORLANDO, Fla. – It is all but certain the 2021 hurricane season will use up its allotted names for the Atlantic Basin.

This has only happened twice since naming began -- once in the 1950s and also in 2005 and 2020.

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With Victor forming Wednesday, only one letter (W for Wanda) remains on this year’s list.

Meanwhile, Powerful Hurricane Sam also remains safely away in the open Atlantic.

The current Accumulated Cyclone Energy, which measures the longevity and intensity of storms, sits at 115.4 for the season. The average to date is 83.1. Last season through Sep. 24 the ACE was 73.3.

In years past, the Greek alphabet had been used as a backup in case of the seasonal names were exhausted. Starting this year, however, a new supplemental list of names will be used in the event we run out.

2021 Names

This was created due to the fact that you can’t retire an entire letter of the Greek alphabet if that particular storm qualifies for retirement, like Eta and Iota in 2020.

With satellite technology improving, the National Hurricane Center is naming more storms than in years and decades past. This increases the likelihood of using more names to identify storms, which also increases the chances a late-season storm would qualify for retirement.

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La Nina has also been around the past two seasons, aiding in the development of storms. Pre-season predictions were well above normal, partially because of this.

Into October

The main development region of the Atlantic, between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, looks to gradually shut down over the next week or so. Development will then become possible, if not even likely, in the Caribbean or southern Gulf of Mexico in the first and second week of October.

A largescale forcing mechanism known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation looks to pass through this region, enhancing thunderstorm development. This entity is currently working through the Eastern Pacific and more tropical development is expected in that basin.

The MJO passes west to east, so the Atlantic usually follows suit after an uptick in intensity in the Eastern Pacific when it is involved.

About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.