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Hurricane season 2020 names and how they get picked

James Leggate

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which began Monday, may be a busy one, according to forecasters.

To make things easier when storms do form, the World Meteorological Organization sets lists of names for tropical cyclones in advance for each year. Using names makes it easier to discuss storms and warn people when they’re approaching compared to other systems based on latitude and longitude.

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There are 21 names on each list, each name beginning with a different letter. They are used in alphabetical order and the names alternate between traditionally male and female names. If there are ever more than 21 storms in a season, storms will be named with letters from the Greek alphabet, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The names are recycled every six years, but names can be retired after they’re associated with a storm “so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity,” according to the NHC.

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Dozens of names have been recycled since the modern system was adopted in 1954. The most recent names to be retired were 2018’s Florence and Michael, according to the NHC. Deadly storms from 2019 could also have their names retired, but the decision won’t be made until a 2021 World Meteorological Organization meeting, Weather.com reported.

These are the names for 2020’s Atlantic tropical cyclones:

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isaias
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred

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The first three names have already been used. Arthur and Bertha formed before the formal start of hurricane season. Both tropical storms brought rain to parts of the East Coast. A Third storm, Tropical Storm Cristobal, has caused deadly flooding in Guatemala and El Salvador, according to the NHC. Forecasters warned there’s a risk of storm surge, rain and wind on portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.

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