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Storm Naming in the Atlantic Ocean region
The practice of naming storms began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of tropical cyclones in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms. Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.
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. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.
In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje's hurricane. Then the mid-1900's saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms.
In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alphabetically. Thus, a storm with a name that begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. Before the end of the 1900's, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere.
Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the US National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The original name lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2008 list will be used again in 2014.
The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name for another storm would be inappropriate. If that case, WMO coordinates the removal of that name from the list and its replacement by a new name. In other Ocean regions impacted by tropical cyclones similar practices for naming of tropical cyclones in their respective regions exist. Infamous storm names such as Katrina (USA, 2005) and Mitch (Honduras, 1998) are examples for this.
Storm Names for Atlantic
Media, institutions and individuals sometimes use names to refer to storms that are not classified as cyclones or typhoons by the relevant authoritative WMO centres. This is, in particular, the case of storms crossing the North Atlantic and making land fall in Europe. As this practice is not recognized by WMO, it is recommended that any use of such names make reference to its source (e.g. in the case of Europe for instance, the University of Berlin).
For more information about hurricane, please visit WMO web sites :
For more specific regional information:
RSMC Miami Hurricane Centre (Regional Specialized Meteorological Center, designated by WMO and functioning within the framework of the Tropical Cyclone Programme of WMO)
WMO is the United Nations' authoritative voice on weather, climate and water
For more information please contact:
Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO. Tel.: +41 (0)22 730 83 15; cpa[at]wmo.int
Ms Gaëlle Sévenier, Press Officer, Tel. +41 (0) 22 730 8417