March 17 (UPI) — The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee on Wednesday announced it would retire the names of four storms from the 2019 and 2020 hurricane seasons in addition to halting the use of the Greek alphabet for storm names.
The committee, which provides names for storms in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, chose to retire the names Dorian, Laura, Eta and Iota from the rotating list of tropical cyclone names due to the death and destruction they caused and said it would no longer use the Greek alphabet in the future because it is potentially confusing.
Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 storm that left 70 people in the Bahamas dead and caused an estimated $3.4 billion worth of damage in Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama Islands in 2019. The name will be replaced by “Dexter” on the list of names for 2025.
In 2020, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Louisiana resulting in 47 deaths in the United States and Hispaniola and more than $19 billion in damage. In 2026, “Leah” will replace “Laura” on the names list.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota, both named after letters in the Greek alphabet, resulted in 272 fatalities and $9 billion worth of damage in Central America as they made landfall two weeks apart from each other in November 2020.
The WMO said it would retire the use of names in the Greek alphabet in future hurricane seasons in part because of the impact of the two storms as well as concerns that the naming convention can be confusing and detract from “the needed impact and safety messaging.”
The committee said the Greek names cause confusion when translated into other languages and the pronunciation of some letters such as Zeta, Eta and Theta resulted in storms with similar-sounding names occurring simultaneously. The Greek alphabet if there are more storms in a season than can be covered by the planned 21-name list.
Moving forward, members of the committee will create a supplemental list of names A-Z — excluding Q, U,X, Y and Z — on the Atlantic hurricane list to replace the Greek alphabet names in the event that the initial name list is exhausted.