GENEVA- On March 17 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) retired the names Dorian and Laura from from the rotating lists of Atlantic tropical cyclone names due to the death and destruction they caused.
The WMO’s hurricane committee also made the decision to no longer use the Greek alphabet when naming storms citing the potential confusion and distraction from communication of hazard and storm warnings.
The hurricane season in 2020 was the most active on record. The annual list of names ranging from A-Z for storms was exhausted by mid-September, something that has only happened twice in the last fifteen years. In the past, after the annual list of names was exhausted, meteorologists would continue using names of letters from the Greek alphabet.
In 2020 nine names were used from this auxiliary list from the Greek alphabet, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota.
WMO’s hurricane committee listed several problems with this naming convention which prompted its decision.
The committee pointed out that the Greek alphabet names produced some confusion when translated into other languages used within the region. Also noting that the pronunciation of several of the Greek letters (Zeta, Eta, Theta) are similar and occur in succession. In 2020, this resulted in storms with very similar sounding names occurring simultaneously, which led to messaging challenges rather than streamlined and clear communication.
Instead, hurricane committee members have now agreed to create a supplemental list of names A-Z (excluding Q, U, as well as X, Y, and Z on the Atlantic list) that would be used in lieu of the Greek alphabet when the standard list is exhausted in a given season.
In 2019 the category five Hurricane Dorian appeared to be headed directly for Okeechobee, thankfully instead it stalled along Florida’s east coast, before traveling north up the United States coastline eventually dissipating over Greenland.
Following the hurricane, individuals and organizations in Okeechobee gathered donations to ship to the barrier islands of the Bahamas that were battered by Dorian as he hovered in the Atlantic Ocean. Gilbert locations in the county were used a dropoff location for those donating items like canned goods/non-perishable items, bottled water, powdered baby formula and bagged pet food.
The storm caused an estimated $3.4 billion in damage.
Laura was a powerful category 4 hurricane that made landfall near Cameron, La., accompanied by a devastating storm surge of at least 17 feet above ground level. It was responsible for 47 direct deaths in the United States and Hispaniola, and more than $19 billion in damage.
The name Dorian will be replaced by Dexter in the 2025 rotation while Leah will replace Laura in the 2026 rotation.
The names for the upcoming 2021 hurricane season starting on June 1 are Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, and Wanda.
The supplemental names replacing the Greek alphabet in 2021 are Adria, Braylen, Caridad, Deshawn, Emery, Foster, Gemma, Heath, Isla, Jacobus, Kenzie, Lucio, Makayla, Nolan, Orlanda, Pax, Ronin, Sophie, Tayshaun, Viviana , and Will.