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I Wonder Why – How Hurricanes Get Their Names?

Hurricanes and their names

Why do we give names to hurricanes?

● In the early  days, the  meteorologists  referred to the  hurricanes  by  their  latitude  and 

longitude  positions,  which  are  constantly  changing,  but  this  system  was 

confusing and difficult to use in radio broadcasts.

● Since  hurricanes  were  first  reported  via  radio,  The  National  Weather  Service 

began  assigning  names  to  the  storms  in  1950  based  on  a  phonetic  alphabet 

system (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.).

● In  1953,  they  developed  an  official  list  of  hurricane  names  that  included  only 

female names, until 1979, when male and female names were alternated on the 

list.

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● The World Meteorological Organization manages the naming system, which 

includes making lists of storm names for the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, 

and the Indian Ocean. 

● For Atlantic hurricanes, six different lists are used in rotation. Each list starts with 

a name that begins with the letter “A” and ends with a name that begins with the 

letter “W”. Also, each list alternates between starting with a male or female name. 

● At the end of six years, the first list is recycled and the process starts all over 

again. In many regions of the world, however, the lists are not rotated until all the 

names are used.

● Rotating  these  lists  means  that  many hurricane names  are  used, again  and  again,  but 

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famous names like Hurricane Andrew (1992) and Hurricane Camille (1969) are 

retired forever.