Stormy Weather

Hurricanes, Monsoons, and Tropical Storms

How do hurricanes get named?

The United States introduced the naming system in 1950 in which each hurricane is given a name in alphabetical order. in 1953, the naming convention was taken over by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which selected names from library sources and finalized lists during international meetings. Until 1978, all the names were female, but this practice ended with the 1979 hurricane season, and now names alternate between male and female. The names are all either English, Spanish, or French in origin.

The names are chosen to reflect the cultures and languages found in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Hawaiian regions. When a tropical storm with rotary action and wind speeds above 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour develops, the National Hurricane Center near Miami, Florida, selects a name from one of the six listings for Region 4 (Atlantic and Caribbean area). Letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters.

A home owner frets over his house as strong winds from Hurricane Wilma blow a Florida neighborhood in 2005.

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