Tag Archive for: Iota

Hurricane Naming Changes

Hurricane naming is changing. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has retired the names of Hurricanes Laura, Eta, and Iota from 2020 and Dorian from 2019 because of the death and destruction they caused. WMO also eliminated use of the Greek alphabet when names based on the Latin alphabet are used up. Now, a second list of names, also keyed to the Latin alphabet will be available. In other words, we’ll go around twice with the Latin alphabet if necessary.

The Greek alphabet will not be used in the future because it creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing.

World Meteorological Organization

Changes Result of Record-Breaking 2020 Season

Changes to hurricane naming conventions resulted from the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic season, according to the WMO.

The 2020 season got off to an early start with a nine named storms from May through July. And for the first time on record, it ended with two MAJOR storms in November. The season was so active that the Greek alphabet was used for only the second time; the first was in 2005.

How Retirement of Names Works

WMO rotates Atlantic tropical cyclone name lists every six years. However, extra-deadly storms can have their names retired and replaced.

“In total, 93 names have now been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms began to be named,” says WMO.

Recently retired Hurricane Names

Recap of Storms with Newly Retired Names

2019 – Dorian

Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane and the strongest to hit the Bahamas in modern times. “More than 75 percent of all homes on the island were damaged,” said WMO. The hurricane left 29,500 people homeless and/or jobless.

2020 – Laura

Category 4 Laura hit Louisiana with a 17 feet storm surge.  It killed 47 people in the United States and Hispaniola, and caused more than $19 billion in damage.

2020 – Eta & Iota

Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Nicaragua two weeks apart in November last year. They caused extensive flooding in Central America, killed 272, can caused more than $9 billion in damages.

Reasons for Retiring Greek Alphabet

According to WMO, “The annual name list has been exhausted on two occasions during the past 15 years, and it is likely that this will occur again in the future.”

Because of problems associated with the Greek alphabet, WMO will substitute Latin-based A-Z names (excluding Q, U, X, Y, Z).

  • Confusion when translating Greek names into some languages. 
  • Too much focus on the novelty of Greek names detracts from safety messaging. 
  • Similarity of Zeta, Eta, Theta, which occur in succession resulted in storms with very similar sounding names occurring simultaneously. This caused confusion. 

WMO has already agreed on a supplemental list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names to replace the Greek names. It’s a little bizarre. I noted that they used “Pax.” Pax means stability and peace, not meanings I would normally associate with a Cat 5 hurricane!

Post by Bob Rehak on March 23, 2021, based on information from the World Meteorological Organization.

1302 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Iota is Anything But, Now Cat 5 and Getting Stronger


Ironic Meaning of Iota

Iota is anything but. The word itself is synonymous with “bit, mite, speck, scrap, shred, ounce, scintilla, little bit, particle, smidgen, and tad.” Instead it’s a monster Category 5 hurricane with winds exceeding 160 mph. And the storm is still strengthening.

Iota is in the left of the image, halfway down.

How ironic! Iota is a very impressive hurricane, especially for this late in the year, with a distinct, warm eye on satellite images. An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft found maximum flight-winds of about 147 kt and a central pressure of about 917 mb. 147 knots equals 169 mph.

And that makes Iota the latest category 5 on record for the Atlantic basin. A little more strengthening is possible today with fairly light shear and warm waters before Iota makes landfall tonight.

National Hurricane Center

Strike 2

Rapid weakening is anticipated over central America, and Iota should dissipate in a couple of days. The hurricane is moving westward at 9 kt. After landfall, the cyclone should move a little faster, and dissipate over the higher terrain of central America.

The new forecast is a little south of the previous one, mostly owing to the initial position.

This is a catastrophic situation unfolding for northeastern Nicaragua with an extreme storm surge of 15-20 ft forecast along with destructive winds and potentially 30 inches of rainfall. It is exacerbated by the fact that it should make landfall in almost the exact same location that category 4 Hurricane Eta did about two weeks ago.

Iota should strike the eastern coast of Nicaragua later today as a Category 5 hurricane.

Posted by Bob Rehak based on National Hurricane Center Data

1175 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Iota Could Drop Another 20-30″ of Rain on Areas Just Devastated by Eta

Nicaragua and Honduras, devastated by Hurricane Eta just a little more than a week ago by up to 40 inches of rain, could see another 20 to 30 inches from Iota. Iota formed today in the central Caribbean.

Meanwhile, people in Central America are still digging out from landslides, trying to restore their homes from floods, and dealing with loss of crops, airports, roads and other infrastructure.

Two Major Hurricanes in Two Weeks

Eta hit Nicaragua a little more than a week ago as a Category 4 storm, killing at least 120 people in flash floods and landslides in Central America, according to the Associated Press.

Forecasters say that Iota could also rapidly intensify into a major hurricane, given ideal conditions in the Caribbean.

To put these monster rainfall totals into perspective, Harvey dumped an average of approximately 45 inches across 1000 square miles in the Houston Area. Three years later, we’re still trying to recover.

The combination of these two storms could mean 50% more rain in Central America than Houston received during Harvey.

Forecast track for Iota

NHC Forecast

The National Hurricane Center says that Iota’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph with higher gusts. Steady to rapid strengthening is likely over the weekend, and the system is forecast to be a major hurricane when it approaches Central America.

Across remaining sections of Central America, the system has the potential to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain with a focus across northern Nicaragua and Honduras. This rainfall would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain.

The environment ahead of Iota appears to be quite conducive for intensification. The system will be moving over warm waters, in a moist atmosphere, and within an area of very low vertical wind shear. As a result, steady to rapid strengthening appears likely over the next few days.

Record-Setting Season

“Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season,” said the Associated Press.

Eta may also have tied or exceeded Gordon for the longest-lived tropical event. Gordon formed on November 8, 1994 and dissipated almost two weeks later on November 21. Hurricane Eta formed on October 31 this year and dissipated today, November 13. Thus, it may have lasted a day longer. However, the experts have not yet made an official announcement that I have seen.

Why Such a Busy Season?

Dr. Nelun Fernando, a climatologist writing for the Texas Water Development Board, says, that currently we are under the influence of La Niña. “You can think of El Niño and La Niña as two faces of the same coin, where the coin is a phenomenon known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (also referred to as ENSO).”I

“La Niña is associated with a more active Atlantic hurricane season,” he says. “This increased activity is because the vertical wind shear (the change in wind speed and direction with height) is weaker during a La Niña year, enabling tropical storms to develop vertically without impediment.”

In La Niña years, steering currents that could cause wind sheer shift farther north, letting more storms develop in the tropical Atlantic.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/13/2020

1172 Days After Hurricane Harvey