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Greek alphabet retired for hurricane names; ‘Isaias’ still available

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A building is flooded Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, after Hurricane Laura went through the area near Lake Charles, La. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Last year’s hurricane season was the busiest on record in the Atlantic.

For the second time in 15 years, the list of names used to identify hurricanes was exhausted and the Greek alphabet was used.

But on Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced the Greek alphabet will never again be used to name tropical systems.

The WMO is an agency of the United Nations, made up of 193 countries and territories. Naming storms is only one duty of the WMO, but is probably the most public.

MORE INFO: Hurricane Seasons are Getting Busier

Atlantic tropical cyclone lists are repeated every six years. Occasionally, a storm is so deadly or destructive that the name is retired and replaced. Notable retired names which impacted Southern New England include Carol, Bob, Gloria and Sandy.

In 2020, the full list of names was exhausted, then the Greek alphabet was used to name storms, as it was in 2005.

The WMO felt using the Greek alphabet was distracting from the potential seriousness of the storms. In addition, there was some confusion when the names were translated into other languages. Also, Zeta, Eta and Theta all sound very similar and can confuse people. Lastly, two storms with Greek alphabet names were retired, Eta and Iota, and there was no plan in place to retire Greek alphabet names.

FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2020 file photo, a resident walking through a flooded street looks back at storm damage caused by Hurricane Eta in Planeta, Honduras. Flooded out Honduran and Guatemalan families stranded on rooftops in the most marginalized neighborhoods after the passage of hurricanes Eta and Iota portend a new wave of migration, observers across the region say. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez, File)

Going forward, the WMO and the National Hurricane Center will use a supplemental list of names whenever the yearly list of names has been exhausted.

In lieu of the Greek alphabet, these names will be used in the Atlantic:

  • Adria
  • Braylen
  • Caridad
  • Deshawn
  • Emery
  • Foster
  • Gemma
  • Heath
  • Isla
  • Jacobus
  • Kenzie
  • Lucio
  • Makayla
  • Nolan
  • Orlanda
  • Pax
  • Ronin
  • Sophie
  • Tayshaun
  • Viviana
  • Will

Also, two other names were retired by the WMO: Dorian from the 2019 season and Laura from 2020.

Laura impacted people from the Caribbean to the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August last year. The hurricane, a Category 4 at one point, killed 47 people directly and caused $19 billion in damage.

Isaias was not retired despite the storm claiming 14 lives and an estimated $4.7 billion in damage from the Caribbean to the Northeast United States.

No one died in Rhode Island from Isaias, but two people were killed in Connecticut as a result of the storm. Isaias remains one of the worst storms in Rhode Island history as more than 140,000 National Grid Customers lost power ─ more than during Sandy in 2012 and the Macroburst of 2015.

The WMO can still decide to retire Isaias in the future.

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