Twisters - Hurricanes: How they work and what they do.

How are Hurricanes Named?


Forecasters began naming hurricanes and tropical storms in order to provide ease of communication between them and the general public in areas regarding forecasts, watches and warnings. By naming hurricanes, there is a reduction in confusion about what storm is being described. Prior to 1950, hurricanes were assigned names by the year in which they occurred plus a letter from the alphabet (i.e. 1942A, 1942 B, etc.). It then became the trend to give hurricanes human names. At first, it was only girls’ names, but after 1978, they used boys’ and girls’ names alternately. Experience shows that the use of girls' and boys' names in written and spoken communication is shorter, quicker, and causes fewer mistakes than any other hurricane identification used to date.

Each year, a potential list of names is prepared for the upcoming hurricane season. The list contains a name for each letter of the alphabet. (The letters Q, U, X, Y, Z are not included because there are not many names beginning with those letters.) These lists are recycled every six years and names are replaced when a hurricane name is retired.

Animation of Hurricane Mitch Hurricanes names are chosen from a list selected by the World Meteorological Organization. The Atlantic is assigned six lists of names, with one list used each year. Every sixth year, the first list begins again. Each name on the list starts with a different letter, for example, the name of the very first hurricane of the season starts with the letter A, the next starts with the letter B, and so on. The letters "Q", "U", "X", "Y" and "Z", however, are not used.

Often when an unusually destructive hurricane hits, that hurricane's name is retired and never used again. Since 1954, forty names have been retired. In 1996 Hurricane Luis was retired. Is your name among the currently used or retired hurricane names?



Recently Retired Names

Allison Andrea
Floyd Franklin
Georges Gaston
Iris Ingrid
Keith Kirk
Lenny Lee
Michelle Melissa


Hurricane Names Selected for the Atlantic Basin

1997/2003 1998/2004 1999/2005 2000/2006 2001/2007 2002/2008
Ana Alex Arlene Alberto Allison* Arthur
Bill Bonnie Bret Beryl Barry Bertha
Claudette Charley Cindy Chris Chantal Cesar
Danny Danielle Dennis Debby Dean Dolly
Erika Earl Emily Ernesto Erin Edouard
Fabian Frances Floyd* Florence Felix Fran
Grace Georges* Gert Gordon Gabrielle Gustav
Henri Hermine Harvey Helene Humberto Horrtense
Isabel Ivan Irene Isaac Iris* Isidore
Juan Jeanne Jose Joyce Jerry Josephine
Kate Karl Katrina Keith* Karen Kyle
Larry Lisa Lenny* Leslie Lorenzo Lili
Mindy Mitch* Maria Michael Michelle* Marco
Nicholas Nicole Nate Nadine Noel Nana
Odette Otto Ophelia Oscar Olga Omar
Peter Paula Phillippe Patty Pablo Paloma
Rose Richard Rita Rafael Rebekah Rene
Sam Shary Stan Sandy Sebastien Sally
Teresa Tomas Tammy Tony Tanya Teddy
Victor Virginie Vince Valerie Van Vicky
Wanda Walter Wilma William Wendy Wilfred

* Hurricanes retired since 1985.


Click the Blue Links below to get more information on the retired hurricanes:

Name Year Name Year
Agnes 1972 Eloise 1975
Alicia 1983 Fifi 1974
Allen 1980 Floyd 1999
Allison 2001 Flora 1963
Andrew 1992 Fran 1996
Anita 1977 Frederic 1979
Audrey 1957 Georges 1998
Betsy 1965 Gilbert 1988
Beulah 1967 Gloria 1985
Bob 1991 Gracie 1959
Camille 1969 Hattie 1961
Carla 1961 Hazel 1954
Carmen 1974 Hilda 1964
Carol 1965 Hortense 1996
Celia 1970 Hugo 1989
Cesar 1996 Inez 1966
Cleo 1964 Ione 1955
    Iris 2001
    Isidore 2002
Connie 1955 Janet 1955
David 1979 Joan 1988
Juan 2003 Keith 2000
Diana 1990 Klaus 1990
    Lenny 1999
Diane 1955 Luis 1995
Donna 1960 Marilyn 1995
    Michelle 2001
Dora 1964 Mitch 1998
Edna 1968 Opal 1995
Elena 1985 Roxanne 1995

Blue indicates retired Names