Hey Hurricane, how’d you get your name?

By on August 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

 Now that we’re getting into hurricane season, I thought I’d find the answer to a question I’ve had for some time: how do hurricanes get their names? Some of them are infamous and will never leave our memory – Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina are perfect examples of that – but why Andrew? And why Katrina? Well, as it turns out, there’s actually a science to the naming of these storms – and it’s been that way for more than 50 years.

When a storm’s winds reach a sustained 39 miles per hour, it becomes a named tropical storm; if those winds top 74 miles per hour, then it keeps the name and becomes a hurricane.  

The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee is the team responsible for naming each storm. There are actually six lists of names that have already been pre-selected and they’re used every six years.

There is an exception to the names listed though; the names of storms that cause a tremendous amount of damage (like Hurricane Katrina) are retired, and a new name is chosen. Each name is chosen in alphabetical order and each name rotates between male/female names. Take a look at the names on tap for the next couple of years:

Arlene
Bret
Cindy
Don
Emily
Franklin
Gert
Harvey
Irene
Jose
Katia
Lee
Maria
Nate
Ophelia
Philippe
Rina
Sean
Tammy
Vince
Whitney

Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Ingrid
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastien
Tanya
Van
Wendy

 

 

If your name’s on that list, here’s hoping that the storm that shares your name is a relatively mild one! Otherwise, your nickname just might be “Hurricane” someday.