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The National Hurricane Center has exhausted the list of names of storms only for the second time since the naming began in 1950. We hit the 23rd tropical storm of the year, called Beta, more than a month earlier than in 2005, the only other year recorded with so many storms.
With the new storms, forecasters have passed from the alphabetical list of people’s names to the letters of the Greek alphabet. The 2005 season had six storms that were named with Greek letters, ending with Zeta.
Why are all these storms happening? This year, sea surface temperatures were above average across much of the Atlantic Ocean and wind shear (an atmospheric phenomenon consisting of a sudden change in wind) was below average. More favorable conditions than usual for the formation of tropical cyclones.
Four hurricanes hit the coast of the United States this year: Hanna, Isaias, Laura, and Sally. We also observed many short-lived tropical storms that had less impact. Tropical cyclones typically need sea surface temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius to form, and warm water along the Gulf Stream can help perturbations turn into tropical cyclones.
In all, the 2005 season had 28 storms and experts therefore switched to the Greek alphabet. We could finish the Greek letters before hurricane season ends on November 30th? We’ll see.