A History of Hurricane Names
For several hundred years, many hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occurred. Clement Wragge, an Australian meteorologist, began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century. During World War II, this practice became widespread in weather map discussions among forecasters, especially Air Force and Navy meteorologists.
Experience 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. The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time.
The Tropical Prediction Center near Miami, FL, keeps a constant watch on oceanic storm-breeding areas for tropical disturbances that may herald the formation of a hurricane. If a disturbance intensifies into a tropical storm - with rotary circulation and wind speeds above 38 miles per hour - the Center will give the storm a name from one of the six lists below. The Center uses a new set of names each year beginning with the first name in the set. After the sets have all been used, they are reused. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters. TPC retires a name after a major land-falling storm with major economic impact.
The name lists have an international flavor because hurricanes affect other nations and are tracked by the public and weather services of many countries. Names for these lists are selected from library sources and agreed upon at international meetings of the World Meteorological Organization.