Hurricanes: Greek letters scrapped; Dorian, Laura storm names retired

Eta, Theta and Zeta are gone. So are Laura and Dorian.

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Late-season hurricanes will no longer carry Greek names, the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday.

Dorian and Laura, hurricanes from 2019 and 2020, respectively, will have their names permanently retired, the organization said in a news release. The names of particularly destructive storms have been retired. That will include last year’s Category 4 Eta and a Category 5 Iota.

Dexter will replace Dorian on the list of names in 2025, and Leah will replace Laura on the list of names in 2026, according to the World Meteorological Organization

Ninety-three names have been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms were first named under the current system.

Greek letters for storms were ditched for being confusing, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The names were also mispronounced by public officials and reporters, the newspaper reported.

“There was so much focus on the Greek alphabet names,” Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, who chairs the World Meteorological Organization’s hurricane committee, told the Sun-Sentinel. “Sometimes the actual impacts from the storm were lost.”

The Greek alphabet had only been used twice in 2005 and nine times last year during a record-shattering hurricane season, according to The Associated Press.

Beginning in 2021, if there are more than 21 named Atlantic basic storms, the names will come from a pool of names starting with Adria, Braylen, Caridad and Deshawn and ending with Will, according to the AP.

“I think it makes sense,” Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist for Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, told the Sun-Sentinel. “The Greek naming system has always been kind of confusing.”

Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and the strongest hurricane to hit the northwestern Bahamas in modern records, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Dorian caused catastrophic damage, mainly in Abaco and the eastern Grand Bahama Islands, with total damage estimated at $3.4 billion.

Laura was a powerful Category 4 hurricane that made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, accompanied by a devastating storm surge of at least 17 feet above sea level. It was responsible for 47 deaths in the United States and Hispaniola, and more than $19 billion in damage, the World Meteorological Organization said.