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Greek Letters Will No Longer Be Used for Hurricanes

WMO says they were too confusing in 2020
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2021 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – The World Meteorological Association's Hurricane Committee meets every year to decide what hurricane names should be retired. This year, they retired an entire alphabet. The WMO decided that the use of Greek letters was too much of a distraction from the impact of the hurricanes themselves, the Verge reports. In the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Greek letters were used for the first time since 2005 when the regular list of names was exhausted. The WMO used Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, and Theta before the final named storm of the season, Hurricane Iota, formed on Nov. 13. "The Greek alphabet will never be used again as it was distracting and confusing," the WMO tweeted Wednesday.

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It said the names caused confusion when translated to different languages, and the similarity of Zeta, Eta, and Theta also caused confusion. The WMO uses rotating lists of names in six-year cycles and retires names of storms that were especially damaging. The committee, which was mulling over names to retire from both the 2019 and 2020 seasons because last year's meeting was canceled, decided to retire Dorian because of the severe storm in 2019 and Laura because of the 2020 storm, the Weather Channel reports. Eta and Iota would have been retired even if the entire Greek alphabet hadn't been dropped. The WMO also released a list of supplemental names that will be used for storms if the regular list is exhausted this year. (Read more hurricane stories.)

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