What’s in a Hurrica”name”

A very simple question…”Why do all these hurricane have names of women?”…got me thinking. The question was in the context of discussing Hurricane Rita’s arrival and of Hurricane Katrina in the not so distant past.

Well a little bit of google”ing” and I found a trove of information.

They started naming Atlantic Tropical storms based on a list that is generated by the National Hurricane center.

Did you know that till 1979 hurricanes were named only after women. Why may I ask ? Nature does not differentiate who is drenched by the downpour !

However since 1979 alternate hurricanes are named after men and women.

A lot of the tropical storms, do not hit land, and dissipate over water, hence even though they are named, you may not hear of them.

Thus between Katrina and Rita there were Lee Maria Nate Ophelia and Philippe. Only Philippe made headlines because it dared come so close to land !

There are six lists that are maintained and rotated every six years, hence hypothetically Katrina can strike back in 2011.

But as per the National Hurricane Center

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 on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.

Each list contains 21 names. In the event that more than 21 named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on.

Names are also retired every few years…here is the how and why of it.

In all this naming craziness, why u ask; do we need names. Here is why

The naming saga continues and Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma may follow Rita. May they never see the sight of land and perish in the cold waters of the Atlantic.

And this is only the Atlantic Tropical Storms. There are complete lists for storms in other ocean bodies. Read more here

So as Hurricane Rita gets ready to strike, I would like to send out a good wishes bloghug to Patrix and Ash, two bloggers who I know are in the target path. Hope that they both and the millions others will be safe and dry and maybe nature plays a trick and cuts Rita down in its path.

Till then go on to Rita Help for the latest effort from the blogging world to pass on info. Patrix  and Dina are blogging there.


  1. PALFORCE September 22, 2005

    You would think Hurricane names should be something like:


  2. Kendra O'Keefe September 22, 2005

    Out of all the names I have heard everything.The
    only name I haven’t heard was my name Kendra.My
    siblings and I use to pick On my mom because her
    name was use(Hurricane Bonnie).Mine is more or less a statement.I would like to see my name used for a Hurricane. Sincerly
    Kendra O’Keefe

  3. Dr. Prahalathan KK October 8, 2005

    Informative Post!
    Came thru Desi Pundit…

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