Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Running Out of Names

This year's hurricane season has been so active that scientists at NOAA are in danger of running out of names. What happens then? The Greek alphabet steps in!

The Atlantic basin has seen 17 named storms since season began June 1, and only four are left on the list.

What's a meteorologist to do if the names run out? Go Greek.

Should the Atlantic see more than 21 named storms "additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on," according to the National Hurricane Center Web site.

"We only have four names left on the list this year: Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. If we have a fifth storm it would be named Alpha," said Daniel Brown, a meteorologist at the center, which is based in Miami, Florida.

At the beginning of each Atlantic storm season, the center publishes a list of 21 storm names. They alternate male and female names in alphabetical order.

The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are skipped because not enough names start with those letters, Brown said.

Could it happen?

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