TEXAS, USA — The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season started in May with Arthur. By mid-September, Tropical Storm Vicky formed in the Atlantic, leaving only Wilfred on the list of hurricane names.
So, what happens next?
For only the second time in recorded history, the National Hurricane Center will likely have to move to the Greek alphabet for additional storm names.
The last time that happened was 2005 where six storms were named using the Greek Alphabet.
The National Hurricane Center does not use the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z because there aren't enough names to fill those letters based on a seven year rotation.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. Two storms, Arthur and Bertha, were named in May.
So far this season, we have seen 20 named storms. The average for an entire Atlantic hurricane season is 12. In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated their season forecast, calling for up to 25 named storms. NOAA has never forecast that many storms in a season.
Statistically, the peak of hurricane season occurred on September 10. During an average season, and 2020 has been anything but average, three storms get names in September, two are named in October and there is on average one named storm in November.
History of hurricane names
The National Hurricane Center began using male and female names for tropical cyclones in 1979.
The history of naming cyclones has a confusing past. The United States began using female names for storms in 1953, a change in tradition from using the phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie) to name storms.
The NHC does not name tropical cyclones. They rely on a strict procedure established by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
For Atlantic Hurricanes, names are recycled every six years. Hurricane names are retired if the storm is very deadly or very costly.
Some famous retired hurricane names include Harvey, Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, Andrew, Hugo, Sandy and Michael. The 2005 season, which includes Katrina and Rita, retired five names, the most since the system began in 1954.
2020 | A record season
- First season to see seven named tropical cyclones make landfall in the continental U.S. before September
- Second most active season, tied with 1933
- Sixth consecutive year with pre-season storms (Arthur and Bertha formed in May before hurricane season began in June)
- 17 storms have records for the earliest formation by storm number
- Hurricane Laura is the strongest tropical cyclone on record in terms of wind speed to make landfall in Louisiana