New Tropical Storms in Atlantic to be Named After Greek Letters

Three Atlantic Hurricanes are seen in this satellite image in the summer of 2020. Credit: NOAA

Since it is 2020 — and we must all therefore be prepared for the worst — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has determined that if the Atlantic produces more storms, they will soon run out of names that they had determined would be used for this year.

In this exceptionally busy storm year, which has seen the formation of a staggering 22 named tropical storms, the Greek alphabet will have to be used if too many more storms blow up out of the southern Atlantic.

Hurricane-chasing aircraft above eyewall. Credit: NOAA

After the next storms (which will be given the monikers of Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred) the usual naming system will be taken over by an alphabetical listing of the Greek letters, beginning with Α – Alpha, Β – βετα, Γ – Gamma, and so on.

The inside of a hurricane eyewall. Credit: NOAA

As of Monday, there are four named storms rotating in the Atlantic — with another tropical depression, named “21” for now — spinning off the western coast of Africa.

This has happened only six other times since the 1960’s, when there were four Atlantic hurricanes simultaneously. These all occurred at this time of year, which the Weather Channel calls “the heart of the hurricane season,” late August and early September.

According to Eric Blake, a senior hurricane scientist at the National Hurricane Center, these combined five systems now spinning their way across the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico equal the number of storms which occurred in 1971, tying that year for the record of storms produced in the Atlantic.

The NOAA reports that just during the month of August alone, four storms which became large enough to be given names formed in the southern Atlantic, with two of them becoming hurricanes, including Hurricane Laura, which intensified into a major storm.

NOAA officials stated in an announcement that “Based on a 30-year climatology (1981-2010), three named storms typically form in the basin in August, with one or two of them becoming hurricanes, and one of them becoming a major hurricane.”

The NOAA statement added that “in terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which measures the strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, activity in the basin so far in 2020 has also been above average, about 40 percent above the long-term average.”

Hurricane Laura killed a total of 14 individuals after it slammed into the US earlier in the summer. Currently, Tropical Storm Sally, with winds at 65 miles per hour, is poised to make landfall soon in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi and evacuations have been ordered in Louisiana and Mississippi at press time. It is strengthening and may become a hurricane at any moment.

All those living outside the levee system in New Orleans are currently being asked to evacuate due to the dangers posed by Sally.