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.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?
Hurricane Names Selected for the Atlantic Basin
Click the Blue Links below to get more information on the retired hurricanes:
Blue indicates retired Names