Amid storm of hurricanes in 2020, UN runs out of names


The storm of Atlantic hurricanes in 2020 has caused a somewhat strange problem to the United Nations. The World Meteorological Organization runs out of names due to “so many Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms.”

“The storms are given first names in alphabetical order, but this year they are set to run out,” said United Nations on September 15, Tuesday.

Nomenclature of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

The World Meteorological organization comes up with an annual list of names based on the regions likely to face storms. For Atlantic storms, there is a list of male and female names used on a six-year rotation. The terms are changed only when a particular storm has a deadly effect, and hence, it is deemed that the use of the same name in the future would be inappropriate.

This happened once when in 2005, Hurricane Katrina was replaced with the name Katia after the former devastated New Orleans. However, the list does not contain characters starting with certain alphabets like- Q, U, X, Y, Z because scarce names are beginning with these alphabets, which make it challenging to replace terms if and when any storm becomes deadly. Storms are named like that due to the ease of their identification in warning messages.

Storms in 2020

Usually, the annual hurricane season begins from around June 1st and lasts till November 30. But the year 2020 saw Tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha at the end of May. For the Atlantic Basin, this year has been very active for hurricanes and tropical storms.

Clare Nullis, the spokeswoman for the UN’s Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO), recently addressed a media briefing. She said, “The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is so active that it is expected to exhaust the regular list of storm names. If this happens, the Greek alphabet will be used for only the second time on record.”

Seventeen storms have claimed to be the earliest on record this year, leaving just the name ‘Wilfred’ on the list. With the possibility of Wilfred likely to be used up soon as well, the United Nations said.

Present status of the storms

In the most recent play, Hurricane Paulette had its eye over Bermuda on Monday. Tropical Depression Rene has now disseminated. Hurricane Sally will probably cause streak flooding on the US Gulf Coast on Tuesday. Tropical Storm Teddy is required to turn into a typhoon on Tuesday, while Tropical Storm Vicky is over the Atlantic.

Names to go “Greek”

According to the World Meteorological Organization, when all alphabetical names get used up during an active Hurricane season, storms are named according to the Greek Alphabets: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta. Looking back at history, Greek names have been used to name storms just once, in the year 2005 that marked three deadly hurricanes- Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The year 2020 witnessed the same trend and is most likely to shift to Greek names once the alphabetical list of names gets exhausted.

Image courtesy of Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock

Leena Sharma

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Leena Sharma

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