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What's in a name?

Hurricane Etymology

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What's in a name?
Learn everything there is to know about Hurricanes


Prior to 1950 Atlantic tropical storms were not specifically named. The odd storm would be referred to as 'Reid's Storm', the hurricane which hit Bermuda in 1839 named after the then Governor of the islands. Other examples include the Galveston storm, which caused 6,000 deaths in Texas city in 1900 and the 1935 Labor Day Storm which struck the Florida Keys.

The US Weather Bureau used the phonetic alphabet names (Able, Baker, Charlie) from 1950 to 1952 for storms in the North Atlantic. Between 1953 and 1978 Atlantic tropical storms were given women's names by the US Weather Bureau. For the 1979 season the US Weather Bureau and the World Meteorological Organization agreed to switch to lists with alternate female and male names. Six lists are used in rotation with the 2007 list being used again in 2013.

Each list has 21 names from 'A' to 'W'. The Greek Alphabet will be used if there are more that 21 storms in a given year, as in 2005 when there were 27 named storms. Names are retired, by the WMO, if a storm has a major impact in terms of lives lost (Mitch 1998) or economic destruction (Andrew 1992).





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