Tropical storm names now will be Greek letters for first time since 2005

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Residents inspect damage left by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 30, 2005, in Biloxi, Mississippi. - ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS

Tropical storms have blown through 2020’s predetermined A-W names and now must use Greek letters — a practice required only once before, during the record-breaking 2005 season that included Hurricane Katrina.

Meteorologists gave the last English-alphabet name, Tropical Storm Wilfred, to the 21st storm of the 2020 season Friday, exhausting the list.

They were then were forced to give the 22nd storm, brewing in the east Atlantic north of Lisbon, the more mundane moniker Subtropical Storm Alpha.

The only other time naming spilled into the Greek alphabet was Oct. 23, 2005, when that year’s Tropical Storm Alpha formed near the Dominican Republic and caused 26 deaths, most of them in Haiti.

That torrential storm followed two months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana, causing more than 1,800 deaths and $125 billion in damage.

This year’s hurricane season still has two months to go, setting it up to be the first with multiple storms named by the Greek alphabet.

The new Subtropical Storm Alpha formed near the coast of Portugal on Friday and is “expected to be short-lived but bring winds and rain to portions of Portugal,” the National Hurricane Center said.


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