How hurricanes got their names

June 6th, 2012 at 10:47 am by under 4 Warn Weather

By Ryan Farrell, weather intern

Hurricane season officially started on June 1st, even though we have already had two tropical storms affect the US (Alberto and Beryl).  It is common sense that each hurricane gets its own name, but have you ever wondered why or how the names are picked?  To start off; the reason that tropical storms were named was to provide better communication between forecasters and the public.  Since there can be multiple storms in the same area at the same time, names can reduce the confusion about which storm is being talked about.  The first hurricanes that were named came about in the early 1900’s by an Australian forecaster.  He originally named them after political people whom he disliked, due to the fact that he could publicly describe their name as causing harm and distress to the public.  Beginning in World War II tropical storms were given women’s names, after the wives/girlfriends of meteorologists in the military.  The Northwest Pacific basin tropical cyclones were officially given women’s names in 1945.  This followed by men’s names being included beginning in 1979.  These names though, were taken out of the phonetic alphabet such as Able, Baker and Charlie.  The storms are named alphabetically in chronological order, so the first storm of the year begins with an “A” and the second storm will begin with a “B” and so on.  Recently starting in 2000, tropical storms in the Pacific basin have been given names from a much different list.  The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) now gives names to tropical storms, instead of the National Hurricane Center which had since 1953.  The WMO uses a fixed list of names for each year, which are arranged alphabetically omitting the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z.  NOAA is predicting a normal hurricane season this year with 9-15 tropical storms being named which 4-8 of them becoming hurricanes, 1-3 of them being major hurricanes.

One Response to “How hurricanes got their names”

  1. Don Paul says:

    Thanks, Ryan.

    We try to keep our perspective about seasonal hurricane forecasts. Their track record is “speckled”, to say the least. The uncertainty as to whether el nino will return later in the summer or not makes this years’ outlooks even more uncertain.

    As for current weather-related posts, please go to the current thread prior to this one, folks.

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