2020 broke another record when subtropical storm Theta, the 29th hurricane of the season, developed overnight in the Northeast Atlantic. There has never been a record Atlantic hurricane season with more storms strong enough to earn a name.
The World Meteorological Organization burned through its regular list of storm names nearly two months ago and had to resort to using Greek letters to label storms this year for only the second time in its history. It’s the first time Theta has ever been used as a storm name.
The last time WMO used Greek letters was in 2005, which held the previous record for the name of the most storms in a season. That year will still be known for one of the most devastating storms in American memory, Hurricane Katina. Katrina and four other names were retired that year, which happens when a storm is so deadly or costly that the WMO deems it inappropriate to reuse the moniker.
Theta expected to stay in the eastern Atlantic and away from the mainland over the next few days, the National Hurricane Center reported this morning. It’s a relief that communities from Nicaragua to South Florida are still recovering from the recent devastation of Hurricane Eta. Eta could still cause more flooding in Cuba and Florida today, the National Hurricane Center warned.
Eta is the 12th record hurricane to hit the US in a single season. The previous record was set in 1916 when nine storms came ashore. This year has also seen billions of dollars in climate and weather disasters. Hurricanes Laura, Sally, and Isaias were 3 of the sixteen costly events this year.
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The World Meteorological Agency holds an annual meeting after each season ends on November 30, where they decide whether to stop the storm’s name again.