How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?
I had consistently wondered how and why storms and hurricanes were given names, and in most cases, human names.
My curiosity had driven me to ponder about so many possibilities.
Most recurrent of my thought was; perhaps the name of the first metereologist to discover or alert about the impending storm was often adopted. But I was wrong after all.
I never gave up my quest until I found convincing and satisfying answers. Answers I chose to share with you here.
"Storms are given short, distinctive names to avoid confusion and streamline".
In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje's hurricane. Then the mid-1900's saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms.
In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alpabetically. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. Before the end of the 1900's, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere.
Until the early 1950s, tropical storms and hurricanes were tracked by year and the order in which they occurred during that year. Over time, it was learned that the use of short, easily remembered names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. In the past, confusion and false rumors resulted when storm advisories broadcast from radio stations were mistaken for warnings concerning an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away.
In 1953, the United States began using female names for storms and, by 1978, both male and female names were used to identify Northern Pacific storms. This was then adopted in 1979 for storms in the Atlantic basin.
For Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of male and female names which are used on a six-year rotation. The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate.
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in a season, any additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.
Nations in the western North Pacific began using a new system for naming tropical cyclones in 2000. Each of the fourteen nations affected by typhoons submitted a list of names totalling 141. The names include animals, flowers, astrological signs, a few personal names are used in pre-set order. In 2010, the first hurricane in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic region will be called Alex, and in Eastern North Pacific, it will be Agatha.
Can I Also Have A Storm or Hurricane Named After Me?
Sorry, No. (We'll never have an 'Hurricane Tunji' )
We do not control the naming of tropical storms. Instead, a list of names has been established by the international committee of the United Nations World Metereological Organization.
For Atlantic hurricanes, there's actually one list for each of six years. In other words, a list is repeated on the seventh year. The original name lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2015 list will be used again in 2021.
WMO maintains rotating lists of names which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin. If a cyclone is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) 2017.
National Hurricane Center (NHC)
National Weather Service (NWS)
The Wordsmith Blog (TWB)