HOUSTON – The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) hurricane committee held its annual meeting from March 15-17. In the virtual session, the committee retired the following hurricane names:
- Dorian -- 2019 (Dexter will take the place of Dorian)
- Laura -- 2020 (Leah will take the place of Laura)
- Eta -- 2020
- Iota -- 2020
The names were retired because these storms from the 2019 and 2020 Atlantic hurricane seasons were especially destructive. Notably, the name “Imelda” was not retired. Tropical Storm Imelda caused widespread flooding from Houston to Beaumont when it made landfall in 2019.
In a review of the record-breaking 2020 season, the committee also decided to discontinue using the Greek alphabet as a supplemental naming system in case the annual list of A to Z names is exhausted, as was the case in 2020 and 2005. They cited several reasons for their decision:
- Often, there is more focus on the use of the Greek alphabet for names rather than the storm itself, which leads to less-than-optimal communication of important information.
- Greek alphabet names can be confusing when translating to different languages.
- The pronunciation of some of the Greek letters is so similar (e.g. Zeta, Eta, Theta) that people can become confused about which storm is which.
The WMO will replace the Greek alphabet names with a supplemental list of names that start with A, B, C, D, and so on, all the way down the alphabet with the exception of Q, U, X, Y, and Z. The change will create a consistent convention for naming throughout the hurricane season, regardless of the number of named storms that form. Hopefully, it will make communications clearer to the public.
The supplemental list of names agreed upon for Atlantic hurricanes is: