Hurricane Committee retires Greek alphabet for storm names
© Twitter/National Weather Service

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hurricane Committee on Wednesday announced that it will no longer be using the Greek alphabet for storm names. 

The committee, which oversees storms in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, said in a press release that the change was prompted by the use of the Greek alphabet in the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season after it ran out of names on its 21-name rotating list. 

The group said using the Greek alphabet “creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing.” 

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In 2020, the committee used the storm names Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota.

Instead of using the Greek alphabet, which was used only one other time in the past 15 years, the committee said it has agreed on a supplemental list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names in the event that the names on the regular rotating lists are exhausted. 

The group also announced Wednesday that it has retired Dorian (2019) and Laura (2020) from the rotating lists due to the “the death and destruction they caused.”

The two names will be replaced with Dexter and Leah in 2025 and 2026, respectively, the committee announced. 

The Category 5 storm Dorian in 2019 became the strongest hurricane on record to hit the northwestern Bahamas, killing at least 74 people and damaging more than 75 percent of homes on the island, according to the WMO. 

Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana in August 2020, was responsible for at least 47 deaths in the U.S. and the island of Hispaniola and caused more than $19 billion in damage. 

The WMO has since 1953, when it began naming hurricanes under the current system, retired 93 names from the Atlantic basin list.