UPDATE: The Atlantic hurricane season will start this year on June 1 as traditionally scheduled, despite meteorologists discussing the idea of moving it to May 15.
The World Meteorological Organization has also ended the use of Greek letters when the Atlantic runs out of the 21 names for the year, saying Zeta and ETA sound the same and are confusing. Also there was too much focus on the Greek letter and not on the danger associated with the storm it represented.
The Greek alphabet had only been used twice in 2005 and nine times last year in a record-shattering hurricane season.
Starting this year, if there are more than 21 Atlantic storms, the additional hurricane names will come from a supplemental list headed by Adria, Braylen, Caridad and Deshawn and ending with Will. There’s a new back-up list for the Eastern Pacific that runs from Aidan and Bruna to Zoe.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is recalculating just what constitutes an average hurricane season. If it follows the usual 30-year update model, the new “normal” season would have 19% more named storms and major hurricanes. And prominent hurricane experts want meteorologists to rethink how they warn people about wetter, nastier storms in a warming world.
The World Meteorological Organization will be holding its annual hurricane committee meeting this month, and will consider moving up the hurricane season start date to May 15 and issue routine Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlooks to help the public prepare.
According to the agenda, “most National Weather Service messaging says for the public to get ready by the start of hurricane season (June 1st), but the current season timing is not the most beneficial to preparedness efforts since these early storms can be hazardous.”
“In 2020, NHC issued 36 ‘special’ Tropical Weather Outlooks prior to June 1st. In order to provide more consistent information on the potential for late May and early June systems, NHC will now begin the routine issuance of the Atlantic TWOs on May 15, which is when routine Tropical Weather Outlooks also begin for the eastern Pacific basin. An effort is underway to examine the potential advantages and disadvantages of changing the official start date of the Atlantic hurricane season,” said Communications and Public Affairs Officer Dennis Feltgen.
“Named storms have formed prior to the official start of the hurricane season, especially in May, in about half of the past 10-15 years,” according to Feltgen.
The Atlantic basin waters have begun to warm early enough to generate and fuel tropical activity leading to the development of eight tropical/subtropical systems before June 1st.
May tropical storms 2010-2020:
Tropical Storm Alberto: May 2012
Tropical Storm Beryl: May 2012
Tropical Storm Ana: May 2015
Tropical Storm Bonnie: May 2016
Tropical Storm Alberto: May 2018
Subtropical Storm Andrea: May 2019
Tropical Storm Arthur: May 2020
Tropical Storm Bertha: May 2020
“Many of the May systems are short-lived, hybrid (subtropical) systems that are now being identified because of better monitoring and policy changes that now name subtropical storms,” Feltgen explained.
At least 20 direct deaths have occurred from these late May storms since 2012 with about $200 million in total damage.
Regardless of when the tropical outlooks are sent out it is best to always be informed and prepared for whatever storms that may pop up.