A small disturbance, off the coast of Portugal of all places, strengthened into Subtropical Storm Alpha Friday afternoon -- making history.
There have been so many tropical storms and hurricanes this season that the National Hurricane Center has run out of names. So Friday, for the second time in history, the NHC turned to the Greek alphabet.
It first happened in 2005. The hyperactive 2005 season used six Greek names. They were Tropical Storm Alpha, Hurricane Beta, Tropical Storm Gamma, Tropical Storm Delta, Hurricane Epsilon and Tropical Storm Zeta.
However, in 2005, Tropical Storm Alpha didn’t happen until October 22. The 2020 version of Alpha has beaten that date by more than a month.
The National Hurricane Center started officially naming hurricanes, but not tropical storms, in 1950. The naming system that we use today for Atlantic storms began in 1953. The first lists had only female names, and in 1978, male names were added and alternated with the female names.
The World Meteorological Organization approves six lists of names, which are rotated every year. The list used this year will be used again in 2026, with the exception of any names the group decides to retire. Sometimes a storm is so deadly that the name is taken off the list and replaced with another name for sensitivity reasons.
Another Greek name is expected to be needed later in the day Friday. Tropical Depression 22, in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, is forecast to become a tropical storm. The next named storm will be Beta.
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