Tropical Cyclone Names
For example, there was "Hurricane Santa Ana" which struck Puerto Rico with exceptional violence on July 26, 1825, and "San Felipe" (the first) and "San Felipe" (the second) which hit Puerto Rico on September 13 in both 1876 and 1928.
The first known meteorologist to assign names to tropical cyclones was Clement Wragge, an Australian meteorologist. Before the end of the l9th century, he began by using letters of the Greek alphabet, then from Greek and Roman mythology and progressed to the use of feminine names.
In the United states, an early example of the use of a woman's name for a storm was in the novel "Storm" by George R. Stewart, published by Random House in 1941. During World War II, this practice became widespread in weather map discussions among forecasters, especially Air Force and Navy meteorologists who plotted the movements of storms over the wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean.
In 1953, the United States abandoned a confusing a two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.). That year, this Nation's weather services began using female names for storms.
The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men's and women's names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Why Tropical Cyclones Are NamedExperience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods.
These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, airports, coastal bases, and ships at sea.
The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. For example, one hurricane can be moving slowly westward in the Gulf of Mexico, while at exactly the same time another hurricane can be moving rapidly northward along the Atlantic coast.
In the past, confusion and false rumors have arisen when storm advisories broadcast from one radio station were mistaken for warnings concerning an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away.
The name lists have an international flavor because hurricanes affect other nations and are tracked by the public and weather services of countries other than the United States. Names for these lists agreed upon by the nations involved during international meetings of the World Meteorological Organization.
Atlantic Basin Names
The National Hurricane Center (RSMC Miami, FL) is responsible for the Atlantic basin west of 30°W. If a disturbance intensifies into a tropical storm the Center will give the storm a name from one of the six lists (below).
A separate set is used each year beginning with the first name in the set. After the sets have all been used, they will be used again. The 2015 set, for example, will be used again to name storms in the year 2021.
The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters. If over 21 named tropical cyclones occur in a year, the Greek alphabet will be used following the "W" name.
Greek Alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi, Omega
On average there are 11 names tropical cyclones, with six becoming hurricanes, and of those eight, on average two become Category 3 or greater.
Retired hurricane names: Atlantic Basin
The only time that there is a change in the list above is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.
The retired names are as follows...
- A's: Allison (2001), Andrew (1992), Alicia (1983), Allen (1980), Anita (1977), Agnes (1972), Audrey (1957)
- B's: Bob (1991), Beulah (1967), Betsy (1965)
- C's: Charley (2004), Cesar (1996), Carmen (1974), Celia (1970), Camille (1969), Carol (1965), Cleo (1964), Carla (1961), Connie (1955)
- D's: Dean (2007), Dennis (2005), Diana (1990), David (1979), Dora (1964), Donna (1960), Diane (1955)
- E's: Erika (2015), Elena (1985), Eloise (1975), Edna (1968)
- F's: Felix (2007), Frances (2004), Fabian (2003), Floyd (1999), Fran (1996), Frederic (1979), Fifi (1974), Flora (1963)
- G's: Gustav (2008), Georges (1998), Gilbert (1988), Gloria (1985), Gracie (1959)
- H's: Hortense (1996), Hugo (1989), Hilda (1964), Hattie (1961), Hazel (1954)
- I's: Ingrid (2013), Irene (2011), Igor (2010), Ike (2008), Ivan (2004), Isabel (2003), Isidore (2002), Iris (2001), Inez (1966), Ione (1955)
- J's: Joaquin (2015), Jeanne (2004), Juan (2003), Joan (1988), Janet (1955)
- K's: Katrina (2005), Keith (2000), Klaus (1990)
- L's: Lili (2002), Lenny (1999), Luis (1995)
- M's: Michelle (2001), Mitch (1998), Marilyn (1995)
- N's: Noel (2007)
- O's: Opal (1995)
- P's: Paloma (2008)
- R's: Rita (2005), Roxanne (1995)
- S's: Sandy (2012), Stan (2005)
- T's: Tomas (2010)
- W's: Wilma (2005)
Eastern North Pacific Names
The National Hurricane Center (RSMC Miami, FL) is is also responsible for the North East Pacific basin east of 140°W. is also responsible for the North East Pacific basin east of 140°W.
If a disturbance intensifies into a tropical storm the Center will give the storm a name from one of the six lists below. A separate set is used each year beginning with the first name in the set.
On average there are 15 names tropical cyclones, with eight becoming hurricanes, and of those eight, on average three become Category 3 or greater.
After the sets have all been used, they will be repeated. The 2015 set, for example, will be used again to name storms in the year 2021.
Central North Pacific Names
Central Pacific Hurricane Center (RSMC Honolulu) area of responsibility is from 140°W longitude to 180° longitude. The names (below) are used one after the other. When the bottom of one list is reached, the next name is the top of the next list.
Other Basin Names (Worldwide)
Lists of names for other tropical cyclone basins outside of National Hurricane Center's area of responsibility can be found on the World Meteorological Organization tropical cyclone naming page.
Fast FactsTropical Cyclone Olivia
While not the strongest in sustained wind speed, Oliva (April 1996) holds the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded. On April 10, a measured wind speed of 253 mph (408 km/h) was observed on Barrow Island off the northwest coast of Australia.2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season
2005 was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history. There was a record total 28 tropical cyclones, 15 of which became hurricanes, another record. Seven of the hurricanes were Cat. 3 or higher (tied with 1961).Hurricane Patricia
With a measured one-minute sustained wind speed of 200 mph (325 km/h) Patricia became the strongest tropical cyclone (for wind speed) observed in the Western Hemisphere, October 23, 2015. The minimum air pressure of 879 mb (25.96") is also a record.