How Are Hurricanes Named

Recent and Future Hurricane Names:

In the Atlantic Ocean, tropical storms that reach a sustained wind speed of 39 miles per hour are given a name, such as “Tropical Storm Fran”. If the storm reaches a sustained wind speed of 74 miles per hour it is called a hurricane – such as “Hurricane Fran”. So, hurricanes are not given names, tropical storms are given names, and they retain their name if they develop into a hurricane. The names that will be used for recent and future Atlantic storms are listed in the table below.

Names used for Atlantic Tropical Storms
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Alberto Andrea Arthur Ana Alex Arlene
Beryl Barry Bertha Bill Bonnie Bret
Chris Chantal Cristobal Claudette Colin Cindy
Debby Dorian Dolly Danny Danielle Don
Ernesto Erin Edouard Erika Earl Emily
Florence Fernand Fay Fred Fiona Franklin
Gordon Gabrielle Gonzalo Grace Gaston Gert
Helene Humberto Hanna Henri Hermine Harvey
Isaac Ingrid Isaias Ida Ian Irma
Joyce Jerry Josephine Joaquin Julia Jose
Kirk Karen Kyle Kate Karl Katia
Leslie Lorenzo Laura Larry Lisa Lee
Michael Melissa Marco Mindy Matthew Maria
Nadine Nestor Nana Nicholas Nicole Nate
Oscar Olga Omar Odette Otto Ophelia
Patty Pablo Paulette Peter Paula Philippe
Rafael Rebekah Rene Rose Richard Rina
Sandy Sebastien Sally Sam Shary Sean
Tony Tanya Teddy Teresa Tobias Tammy
Valerie Van Vicky Victor Virginie Vince
William Wendy Wilfred Wanda Walter Whitney

History of Atlantic Hurricane Names

Names have been given to Atlantic hurricanes for a few hundred years. People living in the Caribbean Islands named storms after the saint of the day from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for the day on which the hurricane occurred such as “Hurricane San Felipe”. When two hurricanes struck on the same date in different years the hurricanes would be referred to by names such as “Hurricane San Felipe the first” and “Hurricane San Felipe the second”.

In the early days of meteorologyin the United States storms were named with a latitude / longitude designation representing the location where the storm originated. These names were difficult to remember, difficult to communicate and subject to errors. During the Second World War military meteorologists working in the Pacific began to use women’s names for storms. That naming method made communication so easy that in 1953 it was adopted by the National Hurricane Center for use on storms originating in the Atlantic Ocean. Once this practice started, hurricane names quickly became part of common language and public awareness of hurricanes increased dramatically.

In 1978, meteorologists watching storms in the Eastern North Pacific began using men’s names for half of the storms. Meteorologists for the Atlantic ocean began using men’s names in 1979. For each year, a list of 21 names, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet was developed and arranged in alphabetical order (names beginning with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z were not used). The first tropical storm of the year was given the name beginning with the letter “A”, the second with the letter “B” and so on through the alphabet. During even-numbered years, men’s names were given to the odd-numbered storms and during odd-numbered years, women’s names were given to odd-numbered storms (see the table above for recent name lists).

Today, the World Meteorological Organization maintains the lists of Atlantic hurricane names. They have six lists which are reused every six years.

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