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Alpha forms far east in Atlantic as Greek alphabet storm names begin

After using up all the traditional storm names for 2020, meteorologists will now use Alpha, Beta and other Greek letters for future Atlantic storms.

MIAMI — For only the second time in recorded history, the Hurricane Center has started using the Greek alphabet after running out of traditional storm names. 

Subtropical Storm Alpha formed Friday far east in the Atlantic.

The only time the Hurricane Center had used the Greek Alphabet like this before was in the deadly 2005 hurricane season, during which Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Alpha came just hours after Tropical Storm Wilfred formed in the eastern Atlantic, using the last of the traditional names for tropical systems. That storm's maximum sustained winds Friday morning were near 40 mph. Slight strengthening was possible during the day but weakening should start over the weekend, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Wilfred was centered about 630 miles (1,015 kilometers) west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and was moving west-northwest near 17 mph (28 kph).

The prior record for the earliest 21st named storm was Wilma on October 8, 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

“Get out the Greek alphabet,” the National Hurricane Center tweeted Friday morning. 

It is still peak Atlantic hurricane season for a few more weeks and forecasters are watching at least three other systems for signs of development, including one that is a tropical depression in the western Gulf of Mexico.

Credit: National Hurricane Center
The National Hurricane Center announced Friday that Tropical Storm Wilfred has formed in the Atlantic.