Because it's 2020, we might run out of names for hurricanes

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The prospect of a hurricane named Alpha forming somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean is a very real possibility by the end of the year, which is just par for the 2020 course.

It’s been an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, as predicted by meteorologists. By now, we’ve witnessed nearly every one of the 21 names used for tropical cyclones.

The list of names is maintained by the World Meteorological Association and rotated every six years, unless names for particularly devastating storms (like Katrina and Rita) are retired. The association does not use the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z.

But what happens if there are 22 storms in a season? It would be improper to leap frog back to the top of the list (i.e., two storms in a year named Arthur). Jumping ahead to the next year’s list seems like a logistical nightmare.

Enter the Greek alphabet.

There are three disturbances in the Atlantic forecast zone currently vying to become Tropical Storm (or Hurricane) Wilfred, the last in line on 2020’s traditional list of storm names. If or when that happens, meteorologists will start using the Greek alphabet to name storms.

The last (and only) time meteorologists dipped into the Greek alphabet for a named Atlantic storm was in 2005, when there was a record 28 storms.

Remember, kids: Hurricane season lasts through November, although storms can still form after.