How Do They Come Up With Hurricane and Storm Names?

how hurricane and storms are named

As the summer approaches, the hurricane season will start before long.

And when the hurricane starts in full swing, you will get to hear names such as hurricane Arlene or hurricane Cindy.

Now, this can make you wonder how are the names of these hurricanes decided! Or, why on earth are these storms given a name in the first place.

Have patience.

By the end of this article, you will get the answer to all of your questions and much more.

Why Are The Hurricanes Given A Name?

hurricane name

Before 1953, a system of latitude-longitude numbers was employed to name the hurricanes.

Since two or more tropical storms could occur simultaneously, it became pretty confusing for people living along the coasts to find proper information about the hurricanes.

On top of that, false rumors and widespread confusion generated when storm advisories announcements from radio stations were mistaken for alerts regarding a completely different storm located hundreds of miles away.

Hence, to make communication easier and avoid confusion, the World Meteorological Organization created a list of names for hurricanes.

It is more convenient for people to remember the names of hurricanes rather than the numbers and technical terms.

When Does A Storm Get A Name?

naming a storm

A tropical storm is usually given a name when it demonstrates a rotating circulation pattern and a wind speed of 39 miles per hour.

How Are The Monikers For These Hurricanes Chosen?

People have been giving names to hurricanes for centuries.

In the beginning, names for hurricanes were decided arbitrarily.

Later during the early 1950s, the meteorologists decided to come up with a methodical and efficient system, which includes taking names for the storms from an alphabetically arranged list (e.g., Andrew, berry, Claire)

The same names were used to identify the hurricanes each season. That means the first hurricane of the season was always Andrew, then Berry, and so on.

Since 1953, hurricanes have been given names from a list produced by the National Hurricane Center of the United States of America.

However, at present times the World Meteorological Organization is responsible for managing the list.

The first draft of hurricane names featured only female names. However, male names have been included in the list from 1979.

Currently, six lists are used alternately. For example, the list of 2024 will have the same names as the list of 2018.

It helped to increase public awareness about hurricanes significantly.

Why Are Some Names Retired From The List?

Every once in a while, there comes a hurricane that causes widespread devastation, damages property and lives of thousands, and leaves unspeakable destruction in its wake.

And when a hurricane is regarded as costly or terrible, it is removed from the list due to sensitive reasons.

For instance, hurricane sandy was removed from the list due to the numerous deaths and massive destruction it caused in 2012.

The WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees will choose another name to take its place on the list.

Since 1979, names of more than a few hurricanes have been removed and sent to retirement. You can find their names here.

What If More Than 21 Hurricanes Occur In A Year?

It’s not very common to have more than 21 hurricanes in a year.

However, if more than 21 tropical storms occur in a single calendar year, the additional storms are named after the Greek alphabets:  Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.

How Is The Strength Of Storms Ranked?

In most parts of the world, The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) is used to determine the strength of a tropical storm.

Category 1

Wind speed: 74-95 mph

Damage: It can cause substantial damage to power lines and may result in a power outage for a few days. Trees that have shallow roots may get uprooted.

Category 2

Wind speed: 96-110 mph

Damage: Your house may suffer from major roof damage, even if it’s sturdily built. Uprooted trees could cause the roads to be blocked. You should expect a power cut which could last for weeks.

Category 3

Wind speed: 111-129 mph

Damage: Your house can be subjected to severe damage, and your roof may get removed.

A large number of trees will get uprooted and cause disturbance to the transportation system.

Utility services such as electricity and water may remain unavailable for several days or even weeks after the hurricane passes.

Category 4

Wind speed: 130-156 mph

Damage: Sturdily built homes could sustain serious damage and lose a significant part of the roof structure and exterior wall.

Needless to say, most of the trees will probably fall and may cause the area to be isolated.

A power blackout will occur and may last for months. It will take months before the area becomes habitable.

Category 5

Wind speed: 157 mph or higher

Damage: Many framed homes will get destroyed. Residential areas will be completely cut off due to uprooted trees and power poles.

There will certainly be a power outage which may last several weeks or even months. The entire area may remain inhabitable for months.


Giving names to hurricanes and storms may seem silly, but ultimately, they help create awareness among the people.

I hope I have been able to answer all your questions. If not, let me know in the comments section.

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