HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—After a record 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the National Hurricane Center is making some changes for the 2021 season.
The Rio Grande Valley experienced the record season firsthand with Hurricane Hanna making landfall near Port Mansfield.
The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season saw 30 named storms, which required the use of Greek letter names.
This is something only done once in 2005 when there were 28 named storms. But, due to two Greek letter names of Eta and Iota needing to be retired, due to the amount of destruction they caused in Nicaragua weeks apart, the National Hurricane Center was forced to look for other options as a submental list of names.
“We never had to retire Greek alphabet names,” said National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham. “We never have been faced with that so, as part of the World Meteorological Organization, there are 28 nations on the chair of the committee, we looked at how we going to retire Greek alphabet names, we looked at pronunciation issues in different languages.”
Starting this year, the National Hurricane Center will use a secondary list of 21 actual names, starting with Adria and ending with Will. NHC said this will also help with another issue that came with using Greek letter names.
“It sorts of distracted away from the hazards associated with the storms themselves,” said Dr. Michael Brennan, NHC Senior Hurricane Specialist, and Branch Chief. “People were kind of fascinated that we were using Greek letters instead of paying attention to the storms in some cases.”
Another change that the National Hurricane Center is looking into is moving the start of hurricane season for future seasons up to May 15 to match the start of the Eastern Pacific Season. The current start date is June 1.
“The earlier the season you start doing hurricane preparedness when we still have severe weather going on in the United States,” said Graham. “There has to be some climate science, there has to be some meteorology in here, and I want some social science in there too to see if this the smart thing to do.”
Tropical Storm Ana also formed prior to the start of the season on May 22 near Bermuda. Over the last six years, there have been eight storms prior to the start of the season, including Ana in 2015.
“We have had activity, prior to June 1 several of the last few years, prior to the official start of the hurricane season, so this just a way to provide more consistent messaging about systems that could go on to become tropical depressions or tropical storms as we get into that late May and early June timeframe,” said Dr. Brennan.
Brennan added that the problem with early systems is that they normally form closer to land with very little lead time before landfall.
The National Hurricane Center is forecasting an active hurricane season with 13 to 20 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3 or stronger).
“Whether it is 14 named storms, or 30 like last year, or one, look if you get one storm in south Texas it is a busy year and you got to be ready,” said Graham.