Naming Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
Since a hurricane can last for a week or more, and there can
be more than one storm at a time, weather forecasters give each
storm a name so there is no confusion when talking about a particular
storm. Each year, the first tropical storm of the season is
given a name that starts with A, the second storm is given a
name that starts with a B, and so on. Women's and men's names
are alternated. The name lists are made up by meteorologists
at the World Meteorological Organization.
There are different name lists for Atlantic and eastern Pacific
tropical storms. Storms are named as soon as the winds are 39
mph or more. The names of very destructive storms (like Andrew,
Camille, and Hugo) are retired (they are never used again).
Until late in the 1940s, hurricanes were not officially named
(hurricane forecasting was then in its infancy). Only the most
severe hurricanes were given names, and they were often named
for the place they did the most damage (like the Galveston Hurricane
of 1900) or the time they hit (like the Labor Day Hurricane
US meteorologists working in the Pacific Ocean began naming
tropical cyclones during World War 2, when they often had to
track multiple storms. They gave each storm a name in order
to distinguish the cyclones more quickly than listing their
The first US named hurricane (unofficially named) was George,
which hit in 1947. The next one given a name was Hurricane Bess
(named for the First Lady of the USA, Bess Truman, in 1949).
Various naming conventions were used until the use of women's
names was adopted in 1953; the names used that year were: Alice,
Barbara, Carol, Dolly, Edna, Florence, Gilda, Hazel, Irene,
Jill, Katherine, Lucy, Mabel, Norma, Orpha, Patsy, Queen, Rachel,
Susie, Tina, Una, Vicky, and Wallis.
Between 1953 and 1979, only women's names were used to name
tropical storms. Since 1979, men's and women's names are alternated