Where Do Hurricane Names Come From?

We are in the middle of hurricane season and already have a tropical storm named Michael in the Atlantic Ocean. From memorable storms like Katrina to easily forgettable ones like Beryl, naming a tropical system has always been a ‘weather wonder’. Do random people name hurricanes after themselves? Is it the first person to notice it’s formed? After much research, I have found the answer.

Until the middle of the 20th century, Atlantic hurricanes were named for specific days they made landfall on or people and towns they affected by whomever was tracking the storm. This is why the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 does not have an official name. In the 1940s or 1950s, tropical storm names started to get a little more organized. In 1956, the National Hurricane Center was created as a forecast and monitoring hub for hurricanes. They took over naming storms only after women, as it seemed to be the tradition all over the world at the time. In 1979, the world started including masculine names into hurricane naming lists. Pretty soon after, an international committee called the World Meteorological Organization took over the process for every tropically active basin in the world.

Six lists of twenty one names are used in the Atlantic basin, with each list being used every six years. If a storm causes a lot of damage or has a big social impact, the name of that storm is then retired and replaced by the WMO. They come up with names that are easily recognizable by the people and countries affected by the approaching storm and do not take requests for possible names.

If you have a weather question, feel free to email Ploehn@kbtx.com and your question could be answered in a future blog!


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