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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


● 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

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

retired forever.