Forecasters Are Running Out of Hurricane Names (Again)

Atlantic storm names are set to run out for the second year running, with only two left on the official list.

The 2021 season has seen a "record-setting" start, with 19 named hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin so far.

"Teresa is the 19th storm to form in the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season, which is well above normal. Over the past 30 years, there are typically only eight named storms by Sept. 24," AccuWeather noted.

The most notable, Ida, ripped through the Gulf coast and eastern seaboard at the end of August, and the beginning of this month.

Hurricane Sam is currently swirling off the Caribbean coast, while subtropical storm Teresa was named on Friday as it formed off the coast of Bermuda, but has since weakened.

An area of low pressure, west of the Cape Verde Islands, has a 90 percent chance of developing into a "tropical depression or tropical storm" in the next 48 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A second close by has a 50 percent chance of becoming a cyclone. If these two form, that will exhaust the 2021 list of 21 names, which only has Victor and Wanda left, as the list forgoes the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z.

If that happens, the alternative list of names will have to be used, starting with Adria, Braylen, Caridad and Deshawn. With two months to go before hurricane season ends on November 30, it seems likely.

Rick Spinrad, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator, said in a press release: "After a record-setting start, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season does not show any signs of relenting as it enters the peak months ahead."

Alternative list of 2021 hurricane names

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

In 2020, a staggering 30 storms were named, seeing the Greek alphabet used for the additional weather systems. This has only happened twice before, in 2005 and 2020. Out of the nine alphabetical words used last year, two had to be retired, Eta and Iota, as they were so deadly.

Following 2020's record-breaking hurricane season, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hurricane Committee decided to scrap the use of Greek names in favor of official back-up lists for the Atlantic basin, and eastern North Pacific basin.

The WMO said: "It also decided that the Greek alphabet will not be used in future because it creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing."

There are six lists of names rotated every year for hurricanes, meaning 2021's list will be used again in 2027. The only time there's a change is when a name is retired due to the destruction it caused.

The WMO explained: "The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name for a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity."

It also noted there was "no formal plan" to retire the Greek alphabet names, but decided to add them to the banned list as "future use of these names would be inappropriate."

Over the past 66 years, some 93 Atlantic basin names—which covers the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico—have been retired, after causing mass devastation.

File photo of hurricanes from space.
File photo of hurricanes from space. The 2021 season is set to run out of official names, just like last year, with only two remaining. MikeMareen/Getty Images