A Record-Breaking Year

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Since 1953, the World Meteorological Organization maintains and updates the lists used to name Atlantic tropical storms. The 21 names repeat themselves every six years unless one is retired due to a particularly catastrophic storm. In 2004, four hurricane names were retired—Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. (Soon the names to be retired from the 2005 list will be announced and “Katrina” will surely be at the top.)

When the entire list of 21 alphabetic names is exhausted in one season, subsequent storms are identified by the letters of the Greek alphabet. With Alpha and Beta already striking Caribbean and Central American countries, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says that 2005 was the first time this contingency was put into practice. Read more about the very active 2005 hurricane season.

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