Hurricane names for 2020: Arthur to Wilfred

Hurricane Center

MYRTLE BEACH, SC – The first name on the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season list is Arthur, and the last is Wilfred.

Hurricane names are pulled from six rotating lists maintained and updated by the World Meteorological Organization. Storm names are retired only when those storms are particularly deadly or costly.

Does that name seem familiar?

Six years ago, a tropical depression formed just east of Florida’s coastline on July 1st. In the following days, the depression strengthened into Hurricane Arthur and went on to make landfall in North Carolina as a category two hurricane.

Six years prior to that, the name Arthur was used for a tropical storm that made landfall in Belize in May of 2008.

In 2002, six years earlier than 2008, Tropical Storm Arthur formed in the Atlantic where it traveled northeast and made no landfall.

Starting to see a pattern?

The alphabetical list of names used to identify tropical storms and hurricanes repeats every seventh year. The names on the 2020 list should seem familiar to you because they were used in 2014. Most were used in 2008 and in 2002, etc.

Screenshot from the NHC website of the repeating list of tropical storm and hurricane names.

The names came from members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) who proposed a list for each tropical region around the world.

Occasionally, names do get retired off the list and will never return again. This only happens when a storm is so significant, costly or deadly, it would be offensive to use again. When a name is retired, a new name is selected by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees. The name selected will begin with the same letter the retired name began with and take its place. It will appear in the list of names six years following the deadly storm.

Not including 2019, at least two storm names have been retired from their list since 2015. The World Meteorological Organization will likely retire Dorian from the list due to the devastation and loss of life in the Bahamas, however that hasn’t been announced yet.

Most recently, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael were retired from the 2018 list of names. Those names were replaced with Francine and Milton, respectively. They will first appear on the 2024 list of names.

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