Four names from 2019 and 2020 hurricane seasons to be retired

Josh Fiallo, Tampa Bay Times
·2 min read

Au revoir, Dorian, Laura, Eta and Iota.

The names of these past storms — all of which were catastrophic hurricanes in 2019 and 2020 — are being retired from use in naming tropical systems in the Atlantic Ocean moving forward.

The decision came from the World Meteorological Organization, which just concluded its three-day annual session on Wednesday.

Their retirement continues the tradition of avoiding the repetition of names from storms that inflict significant damage and deaths. They will join 89 others in retirement, which includes others like Harvey, Katrina, Maria, Mitch and Irma.

Atlantic tropical cyclone name lists repeat every six years unless retired. In order to make up for the loss of Laura and Dorian, the World Meteorological Organization announced Dexter and Leah will take their place in the cycle.

The organization also announced Wednesday that the Greek alphabet will not be used to name storms moving forward. Protocol previously called on scientists to name storms using the alphabet after a season exhausted all 21 names assigned.

Only two seasons — 2005 and 2020 — required the Greek alphabet to be used.

“It creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing,” the organization said in a statement.

Scientists will now use a supplemental list of names if the original list is exhausted like last year. The list for 2021 includes Adria, Braylen, Caridad, Deshawn, Emery, Foster, Gemma and Heath.

Also discussed at the session was whether to move up the start date of hurricane season — which currently runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 — by 15 days because of the number of named storms that have been forming at the end of May.

No decision was made in this year’s session, according to Ken Graham, who chairs the World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee. But he said researchers will revisit the potential move soon.

“We’re putting together a team to look at it,” Graham said during a teleconference. “I want some data before making this big decision.”