In reply to a query about hurricane names for January, I got a response from Mr. Frank Lepore of the National Hurricane Center. I asked if the 2006 names list starts in January, or if we keep using the 2005 list (and the Greek letters) until hurricane season officially begins. He wrote:
We would use the 2006 list. Note the "hurricane season" June 1st to Nov 30th encompasses 97 percent of tropical cyclone activity in any given year based on climatology (the historic record to 1851).
(From our Frequently asked questions) An early hurricane can be defined as occurring in the three months prior to the start of the season, and a late hurricane can be defined as occurring in the three months after the season. With these criteria the earliest observed hurricane in the Atlantic was on March 7, 1908, while the latest observed hurricane was on December 31, 1954, the second “Alice” of that year which persisted as a hurricane until January 5, 1955. The earliest hurricane to strike the United States was Alma which struck northwest Florida on June 9, 1966. The latest hurricane to strike the U. S. was late on November 30, 1925 near Tampa, Florida. (Contribution from Blake et al. 2005.)
Frank Lepore Public Affairs Officer National Hurricane Center