Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tropical Storm Alpha

It's not official yet, but 2005 seems likely to become the first hurricane season where we have to start using Greek letters to name Atlantic Basin storms.

This morning Tropical Depression #25 came into being, and the prediction is that it will reach tropical storm status — and thus earn a name instead of a number — by this afternoon. Since Wilma, currently the hurricane flitting over the Yucatán, is the last name on the official list for the Atlantic for this year, the naming convention switches over to the Greek alphabet for TD#25 and/or any subsequent storms that become tropical storms.

[ASIDE: The World Meteorological Organization has a really interesting fact sheet [PDF] on tropical cyclone names around the world.]

As it stands, with 21 named storms as of Wilma, 2005 is tied with 1933 as the busiest Atlantic hurricane season ever, and, with 12 hurricanes tied with 1969 for the most hurricanes on record. Half of those were graded as "intense hurricanes," including the most, fourth and sixth most intense ever in terms of lowest barometric pressure (Wilma, Rita and Katrina, respectively).

And that doesn't even include Hurricane Vince, which struck Portugal and Spain of all places.

The kicker is that we still have a few more weeks (until 30 November) for the end of hurricane season. Given how things have gone thus far, we could be looking at Hurricane Delta (or maybe Phi) churning through the Atlantic by Thanksgiving ...

UPDATE: (22 Oct. 2005, 18:19) It's official : TS Alpha is the 22nd named storm of the season ...

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