Hurricane Sally starts lashing Gulf Coast as it churns at sluggish pace

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The increase in storms during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season might exhaust this year’s list of storm names. Five tropical storms in the Atlantic basin have been named, which ties a record for the most tropical cyclones in a basin at one time since September 1971, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricanes Paulette and Sally and Tropical Storms Rene, Teddy and Vicky have all been confirmed as tropical storms, leaving Wilfred as the only available storm name left, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the authority in charge of naming storms.

As of September 15, at least one more low-pressure area has already begun forming near Cabo Verde, which researchers say has a 50% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone formation within the next 48 hours. 

The WMO rotates alphabetical lists of storm names every six years. The lists alternate male and female names, and only exclude five letters of the English alphabet: Q, U, X, Y and Z.

If more than one storm forms before the end of the season, researchers will use the Greek alphabet to name future cyclones. This has only happened once in WMO history, after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma all touched down in 2005. 

While the agency historically retires storm names that cause catastrophic damage or casualties, its voting body has decided that no names from the Greek alphabet will be retired, regardless of storm outcome. Only Hurricane Sally is currently predicted to make landfall in the U.S.


“Historic” flood threat from Hurricane Sally

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