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Arthur, Teddy, Debby – how do they name hurricanes?


Find Your Forecast

    Thursday, July 3, 2014, 9:14 - The names above don’t scare you do they? Well, they will if the word “hurricane” comes before them. With Hurricane Arthur kicking off the Atlantic hurricane season, how do these severe storms get their names?

    An area of low pressure that becomes a tropical storm gets a name. If that said storm then develops sustained wind speeds of 74mph, it becomes a hurricane.

    Naming storms, instead of giving them technical terms, is intended to make them easier to remember. The practice started in 1953 – before that they were named arbitrarily.

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has five regional topical cyclone committees that update the names.

    The names are listed alphabetically. So this year, the first tropical storm in the Atlantic region is called Arthur, the next one will be Berther and so on.

    Hurricane Arthur's projected route over the next few days

    Hurricane Arthur's projected route over the next few days

    Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used in the Atlantic region, due to the lack of names – although in the past there have been a few, such as Yurith and Zorna.

    If there are more than 21 hurricanes in the year additional storms take on the Greek alphabet in the Atlantic region. The last time this occurred was back in 2005, when a record breaking 27 named storms developed.

    Storm names reflect the sensibilities and culture of the region. In the Atlantic region, names will sound American or Hispanic, while central north Pacific names are suitable for those areas.

    They also rotate periodically. For example, in the Atlantic and eastern north Pacific regions, names rotate every six years. So hurricane Arthur could some round again in 2020.

    However, if a storm is particularly devastating – either takes lives or causes major damage – the WMO decides whether to retire and replace the name, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina.

    A recent study found that storms with female names proved to be more deadly because people unconsciously think a storm with a female name is less dangerous. Storm names were initially only female, with male names introduced in 1978.

    So Arthur's already here when are Teddy and Debby scheduled to strike? Teddy could hit later in the year and Debby is expected in 2018. You can check out the full names list on the National Hurricane Center website.