The National Hurricane Center is quickly running out of names for the deadly storms in 2020. In fact, there is only one final name on the official list of Atlantic storm names for the year.
Wilfred is the only name left on the list of 21 storm names pre-approved by the World Meteorological Organization. Yet, Wilfred could be assigned to a storm in the next week, which would exhaust the official name list.
In addition, there are four named systems currently being watched — Paulette, Teddy, Vicky and Sally. Each are expected to cause massive flooding in areas off the Golf Coast. Hurricane Sandy already bombarded parts of Florida and Alabama on Wednesday morning. The storm’s downpour of rain has left some areas under three feet of water or more.
Meanwhile, officials are watching three potential systems that could hit land. The systems include one in the eastern Atlantic that has a 70% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next five days.
What Happens After Official Hurricane Names Run Out
If Wilfred continues to form in the next few days, it will likely be the earliest “W” storm ever recorded. Once the hurricane center officially names the fully-formed storm “Wilfred,” they will transition into the Greek alphabet.
The center has only had to rely on the Greek alphabet as a backup plan one other time, in 2005. They used six Greek names that year. They included, Tropical Storm Alpha, Hurricane Beta, Tropical Storm Gamma, Tropical Storm Delta, Hurricane Epsilon, and Tropical Storm Zeta.
In 1953, weather officials started the naming convention for Atlantic storms. An international committee of the meteorological organization decides on six lists of names that are rotated annually. The names for 2020 will be utilized again in 2026.
However, officials can make an exception if the group chooses to retire a particular name. For example, it’s possible they may retire the name Laura. Specifically, because of Hurricane Laura’s impact on the U.S. and Caribbean, which took more than 50 people’s lives.
Official List of 2020 Hurricane Names
Official List of Greek Names Used After “Wilfred”
[H/T Yahoo! News]