How Hurricanes are Named

By: Katie Greppin

Have you ever wondered how hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, or Micheal, got their names?

There is actually an organized naming system for hurricanes. In 1950, this kind of system was created to make communication about hurricanes simpler. Before 1950, hurricanes had been named using a system of latitude and longitude numbers. For simplification, hurricanes were given short names that are easy to recall. It has been shown that people are able to recall a hurricane much easier using this naming system. This system was put in place by the World Meteorological Organization, or the WMO.

Each year there is a list of 22 names in alphabetical order. The first hurricane of the year gets the first name on the list and so on. There are six lists that rotate every six years. There are also two different lists for Atlantic hurricanes and Eastern North Pacific hurricanes. The Atlantic names for 2018 are Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, and William. The Eastern North Pacific hurricanes are Aletta, Bud, Carlotta, Daniel, Emilia, Fabio, Gilma, Hector, Ileana, John, Kristy, Lane, Miriam, Norman, Olivia, Paul, Rosa, Sergio, Tara, Vicente, Willa, Xavier, Yolanda, and Zeke. In six years, these lists will used again. The only change would be if there is a storm that is extremely deadly and costly. It would not be appropriate to reuse the names of these hurricanes, so they are retired. Some retired names you might recall are Katrina, Harvey, and Irma. Now when you talk about a hurricane, you will know the detailed system behind their name.

Sources

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/storm-names.html

https://earthsky.org/earth/how-do-hurricanes-get-their-names

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames_history.shtml