One of the fun jobs at the National Hurricane Center is naming storms. Ponder for a moment.

OK — so each year, the center publishes an alphabetical list of 21 monikers for the impending Atlantic storm season. (Tricky letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z don’t make the cut.) There have never been that many storms — except once, in 1933 — but this year there’ve already been 17, with two months to go. (And no, likely not because of climate change — read this to find out more.)

Reader support makes our work possible. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations TRIPLED!

So what happens if the names run out? Greek names! Yes, that’s right, Hurricane Alpha could be coming soon to a neighborhood near you — but not before Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma. (For real.)

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.