It’s that time of year all Floridians and others along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts know well- Hurricane Season is upon us. The 2021 names are now announced, and so far we’ve already seen Ana come and go. Ana appeared as an early, pre-season storm in May. This is yet another early season storm for another year in a row- and it’s making many meteorologists and climate watchers consider moving up the start of hurricane season to around May 15- instead of the standard start on June 1.
The World Meteorological Organization chooses hurricane names years in advance. The names get recycled, unless they are “retired” due to a strong storm, large loss of life, or large cost for damages. If all 21 names are used this year, there is a new “supplemental” list of 21 names that will be used after Wanda- rather than the previously used Greek alphabet following the names. Federal forecasters are predicting an ‘above-average’ season- with as many as 20 named storms this season. An average season has 14 named storms, 7 of which are hurricanes. Tropical Storm Ana formed and dissipated quickly, never even threatening land. Next up is Bill- followed by the rest of the list.
Here are the remaining names in the 2021 list:
If we make it all the way to Wanda before the end of the season, there are more names that will be used after Wanda and the list will start over. Here are the list of supplemental names:
In previous years, the Greek alphabet was used after all the hurricane names were exhausted. But after 2020’s season left us with many Greek names and some even retired- the system was exhausted and now a new list of names will follow the initial ones. This will allow for plenty of names should there be more than 21 storms this season.
According to USA Today, Before they started naming storms, hurricane forecasters had to refer to storms by saying something like, “the storm 500 miles east-southeast of Miami.” But six hours later, the storm’s position would change. Also, when more than one storm was going on at the same time, making it clear which storm was being described made the job even harder.
In 1953, the U.S. began using female names for hurricanes and, by 1979, male and female names were used. The names alternate between male and female. The names are alphabetical and each new storm gets the next name on the list. There is no Q, U, X, Y or Z names because of the lack of usable names that begin with those letters. There is a separate list of tropical storms and hurricanes that form in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
In addition, there are also separate lists for typhoons in the western Pacific and tropical cyclones in Australia and the Indian Ocean.