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How Hurricanes Are Named

Photo by Flickr user  NASA Goddard
Photo by Flickr user NASA Goddard

If you are a storm chaser at heart like me and love keeping up with crazy weather patterns or events such as hurricanes, you may have asked yourself before, “Where in the world do the names of hurricanes come from? Is there someone who just sits at their desk and thinks of hurricane names all day?” Well, I am here to put those questions to rest for you.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is responsible for creating a list of names that get assigned to tropical storms in alphabetical order each season. The list of names is repeated, except for names of particularly severe storms, every six years. This naming system began during World War II, when military meteorologists started using women’s names for storms, as opposed to latitude/longitude lines, in an effort to make communication between meteorologists, researchers, emergency response workers, ship captains and citizens easier.

Just in case you are sitting on the edge of your seat in order to see what the next tropical storm or hurricane will be named, the WMO and the National Hurricane Center have published a list of names that will be used for Atlantic tropical storms over the next several years. For example, I know that the third Atlantic tropical storm in 2015 will be named “Tropical Storm Claudette,” or if wind speed reaches 74 miles per hour, “Hurricane Claudette”; and the eighth tropical storm or hurricane in 2019 will be known as, “Tropical Storm Humberto” or “Hurricane Humberto.”