One name left on the Atlantic hurricane list, then what?
Blog by Jo Farrow
Issued: 15th September 2020 20:02

One name left on the Atlantic hurricane list, then what?

Each year there are 21 published names for the Atlantic hurricane season. Typically an average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. All the years since 2016 have been above average. This year it looks like the Greek alphabet names will come into use. The main concern at the moment is the arrival in the US of Sally. 


The Gulf states of America are awaiting Hurricane Sally, churning its way slowly northwards in the Gulf of Mexico. With landfall expected on the morning of Wednesday 16th (local time) the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) is talking of “historic flooding”. This slow-moving cyclone, which is forecast to gradually turn north-eastwards over land, is going to bring a huge amount of rain. There are already tornado and waterspouts warnings along the rain bands emanating from this storm. An extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge is forecast with over 6 feet in places. Due to the “crawling” nature of Sally as it approaches land it could  produce "10 to 20 inches of rainfall with isolated amounts of 30 inches along and just inland of the central Gulf Coast from the western Florida Panhandle to far south-eastern Mississippi.”

Hurricaen sally rainfall flash flood

On Monday morning Hurricane Paulette passed right across Bermuda giving a lengthy spell for the island within the 40 mile wide eye. Paulette has been heading NE, forecast to weaken on Thursday over cooler waters in the northern Atlantic, transitioning to an extratropical storm and then turn southwards towards the Azores.

Currently a Tropical Storm, Teddy is forecast to strength to a hurricane by midweek. That would result in three hurricanes simultaneously in the Atlantic basin. The last time this happened was in September 2018 with Florence, Helene and Isaac. Four hurricanes at one time have also been seen before. We are now nearing the end of the name list in 2020 after a very early start and plenty of named storms.

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The large swells from Teddy are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles and the north-eastern coast of South America on Wednesday.

There is also Tropical Storm Vicky, but this cyclone is not doing much and is forecast to weaken out at sea.

So next would be Wilfred. The yellow and orange crosses show areas of interest for development, the red one just off western Africa seeing over 60% chance of a cyclone forming in next 48 hours. The yellow cross (20%) in the far NE is quite an oddity. It is a non-tropical low which has been affecting the UK weather bringing more cloud and showery rain to western parts. This is continuing to move southwards and might “gain some sub-tropical or tropical characteristics”. Hurricanes can form in this area, one example being Pablo, which made a brief appearance in 2019. This has a low probability of happening.

Greek alphabet names

However, it seems very likely that Wilfred will appear somewhere, most probably south of the Cape Verdes and then another named storm or two. Once the name list is finished (some letters aren’t used such as Q and Z) the Greek alphabet letters come into play. This happened before in 2005, a very active season which produced the most hurricanes recorded, 15 in total. This season, although romping through the names after an early start in May, only six have reached hurricane status. Hanna, Isaias, (major hurricane) Laura, Marco and now Paulette and Sally. Plenty of time is left. 

A complete guide to Atlantic hurricanes

Netweather online forum hurricane thread

Tags: World Weather  Business

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