WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

No More Greek Letters

Posted January 2, 2006

At least not anytime soon, when it comes to naming Atlantic tropical cyclones. Back on Friday, Tropical Storm Zeta formed and became the 27th named (and 6th Greek letter) storm of the 2005 season, the latest on record since Hurricane Alice2 back in 1954. If Zeta somehow turns out to be succeeded by yet another storm in the near future, it will be named using the pre-defined list for 2006, and would be called Alberto.

Incidentally, the formation of Zeta helped to recall the whole bizarre story of "the year with two Alices" in 1954, and how that came to be. The first named storm of the 1954 season was Hurricane Alice, which formed and dissipated in June of that year. When the year was about to end, favorable conditions in the eastern Carribean led to the formation of one last storm beginning on 30 December. However, given the lack of satellite coverage in those days, and the time delays inherent in obtaining reports from some ships and island stations, the storm was not named by the National Hurricane Center until New Year's Day of 1955. At that time, there was not a rotating list of names that differed each year, or that alternated between male and female names, and the first name on the 1955 list was, again, Alice. Even though the earlier formation of the system was discovered pretty quickly, the name was kept, presumably so as to avoid any short-term confusion that may have arisen from renaming the storm to the more appropriate "Irene" from the 1954 list. Hence, since that time lists of storms have included Alice and Alice2 for 1954.

Back to present day for a bit, it may be worth keeping an eye on any watches or warnings that could be issued later this afternoon or evening for severe thunderstorms or tornados in our area, especially south and east of the Triangle. At this time the chance of severe weather appears on the low side, with a better combinatuion of ingredients likely to converge over South Carolina and Georgia, but it bears watching nonetheless. Beyond that, a fairly mild pattern continues through the next couple of days, but should yield to a deep trough aloft and much chillier air Friday and into the weekend. There's even some indication that a minor period of wintry precipitation could develop over the eastern coastal plain late Friday, but that's a very uncertain prospect at this point.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, and best wishes for 2006!
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