How hurricanes are named

We often hear reports about hurricanes causing havoc in different parts of the world, but have you ever wondered how they are named? Until 1953 a US company named US Hurricane Centre was responsible for naming these powerful storms. Today, hurricanes are named by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the UN. Long ago the hurricanes in many countries such as West Indies were named after Christian saints. In the Christian calendar, each saint has a special day named after them, for instance, November 27 is St. Patrick’s Day. So if a hurricane was to occur on November 27 the hurricane would be named Hurricane Patrick, but the same names were being used many times and there were no female names for hurricanes. Around World War II, weather forecasters and meteorologists started using female names but women’s groups started to take offence that only female names were used for a destructive and violent natural phenomenon. Finally, in 1978, both male and female names were used to name hurricanes and now hurricane names alternate between male and female ones. For cyclones in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, the North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific, there are six lists of names and they are used in rotation. There are other lists for other regions of the world, with the names being those that are representative of that region. But do note that it is not hurricanes but storms and topical cyclones that are named because storms start to build up first and only some turn into hurricanes. The organisation set about some rules about naming cyclones/hurricanes. All tropical cyclones and hurricanes will be named alphabetically using all letters except Q, U, X, Y and Z because no common names start with those letters Each region will get a list of 21 hurricane names at the start of six years starting from A and if all 21 names are used in the six years Greek letters are used. Some names such, as Wilma, Katrina or Dan, have been abandoned due to the fact that the hurricanes of these names caused a lot of death and destruction, so WMO doesn’t want future storms to remind people of the tragic events of the past.

Updated Apr 06, 2013 07:00am

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