President Joe Biden Monday, said he’s doubling U.S. emergency spending to help communities prepare for hurricanes and other extreme weather events. Biden traveled to FEMA headquarters in Washington to get a briefing on the 2021 hurricane season which begins June 1. However, we’ve already struck one name off the 2021 Hurricane list of names.
Since the early 1950s, American meteorologists have used people’s first names as an easy way to keep track of hurricanes and tropical storms. In recent decades, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has maintained official lists of storm names for each ocean basin. In the Atlantic, there are six lists, so you’ll see a repeat list (minus retired names, such as Andrew or Katrina or Wilma) in a six-year rotation. But the hyperactive 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has made the WMO change things up a bit.
Here’s the official list for Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms in 2021:
Ana (used, subtropical depression, 5/22/21)
That list only accounts for 21 hurricanes or tropical storms – usually not a problem. The backup list, once any year’s official list was exhausted, used to be the Greek alphabet. In fact, we dug into the Greek alphabet list only once before: in 2005, a very busy season best known for catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.
But then came the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and its record-shattering 30 named storms. Even some of the Greek names (Eta and Iota) had to be retired once the 2020 season ended, because they were associated with especially devastating hurricanes.
To solve the naming problem, the WMO scrapped the Greek alphabet list and will use a new backup list, starting in 2021:
The next time meteorologists need to use the backup list, any names that have to be retired will be replaced by new names. But we certainly hope we won’t see any of these backup storm names during the 2021 hurricane season – or any hurricane season in the foreseeable future.