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The Atlantic Hurricane season is on a record-setting pace with no sign of things slowing down. Last Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a La Niña Advisory; that means that La Niña conditions are present in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
Last spring, the developing La Niña was factored into NOAA's record outlook for the 2020 hurricane season. Why? La Niña weakens winds between the ocean surface and the upper levels of the atmosphere, which allows hurricanes to develop more easily.
How active is it?
We’ve already tracked three times the number of named storms that we should by mid-September. However, experts say that the Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE, is average.
ACE is a measurement of the tropical cyclone activity for a season. It takes into account multiple factors, not just the number of named storms. Other components such as the duration and intensity of a storm are also factors.
Naming a storm
Last week, Gordon Boyce from Dartmouth asked this timely question: “It’s still early and we are approaching the end of the alphabet. Has there ever been a year when we ran out of the alphabet and had to start at “A” again? Google did not help”.
Well, Gordon, you came to the right place.
There are six lists of 21 names in alphabetical order. There should be 26 but there are not enough names for certain letters; Q, U, X, Y and Z do not make the list. They’re rotating lists, so the list being used this year won’t be used again until 2026. The same names are used unless a particularly damaging or catastrophic storm occurs, then that name is “retired” and replaced with a new one.
With Vicky now churning in the Caribbean, we’re almost at the end. The only name left is Wilfred. After Wilfred, we’ll have to dip into the Greek alphabet. The only time this happened was in 2005, and they went as far as Zeta before the season finally fizzled out.
It’s impossible to know how far down that list we will go but there’s still a lot of time for storms to develop. We just passed the half-way mark of this Hurricane season last Wednesday.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network