In its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, the World Meteorological Organization (“WMO”) announced it would retire four names and no longer use the Greek alphabet to name storms in the future.
The four names retired from the 2019 and 2020 season because their destructive and deadly history are:
Dorian will be replaced with the name “Dexter” and Laura will be replaced by “Leah”. Those names will not be used again until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Because the WMO will not use the Greek alphabet in the future, Eta and Iota will not be replaced. The Atlantic Hurricane names rotate every six years unless a storm is so deadly or costly its name should be retired. So far, 93 names have been retired by the WMO since storms started to be named in 1953. The WMO retired names from both the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to COVID-19 concerns during the conference.
WMO #Hurricane Committee has retired #Dorian (2019), #Laura, #Eta and #Iota (2020) from rotating lists of Atlantic names because of the death and destruction they caused
The Greek alphabet will never be used again as it was distracting and confusing
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) March 17, 2021
The WMO also announced it will no longer be using the Greek alphabet to name Atlantic Hurricanes as it creates distraction and could be confusing. Instead, a supplemental list of names A-Z (excluding Q, U, X, Y & Z) has been created and approved for use if the number of named Atlantic Tropical Storms is to exceed 21. Names that begin with Q, U, X, Y or Z are not common enough to be used in the rotating lists of names.
The Greek alphabet has only been used as a naming convention 2 times during it’s 15 year history (2005 and 2020). The confusion stemmed from names sounding familiar (Eta, Theta, Zeta) as well as the complications during translations of the names into other languages. The WMO said that “There can be too much focus on the use of Greek alphabet names and not the actual impacts from the storm. This can greatly detract from the needed impact and safety messaging.”
History on the Retired Names:
Dorian (2019): Dorian was a Category 5 Hurricanes that was the strongest hurricane to hit the Bahamas. It caused catastrophic damage, totaling over $3.4 billion with 75% of all homes on the island of Abaco damaged.
Laura (2020): Laura was responsible for 47 deaths across the United States and Hispaniola in August 2020. It caused more than $19 billion worth of damage.
Eta & Iota (2020): These storms impacted Central America just weeks apart in November 2020. They both made landfall in Nicaragua causing catastrophic flooding through the country and resulting in 272 deaths.