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Could the first hurricane of the Atlantic season be upon us?

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    Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 1:49 PM -

    Are we going to see the first Atlantic hurricane of the season as early as this weekend? There seems to be some indication that says we will. The area around the Gulf of Mexico is currently experiencing thunderstorms and showers and this storm is being pulled in towards the coast. This is expected to continue into the weekend. 

    As well, within the next 48 hours there is a 40% chance that the storm could unfold into a tropical cyclone or subtropical cyclone. With this comes the potential of strong winds and a lot of rain. However, there is a high possibility that things could change because the storm is still in its infancy. 

    If this storm does develop into a hurricane, it will take the name Andrea. But how do they come up with the list of names that they use to identify hurricanes? 

    Originally hurricanes were identified using a system of latitude and longitudes by meteorologists that were tracking them. But later the public also wanted to be able to track particular storms and found it difficult to use this latitude-longitude system.

    Hence, a names-based system became the standard by which to name hurricanes. This practice began in 1953 by the National Hurricane Center. In the beginning, only female names were used to name the storms. This habit followed suit with naval practices of naming ships after women. Although by 1979, male’s names were inserted in the names list. The World Meteorological Organization is currently in charge of maintaining and updating this list through a strict procedure. 

    Now to look at how the list is organized and generated. First, there are six lists of names that are used for storms in the Atlantic. Each year one of the lists are used and those six lists will then last six years. When they reach the end of a cycle they go back to the first list and reuse the names. Each list consists of 21 names which correspond to a different letter of the alphabet (excluding Q, U, X, Y, and Z). The names alternate between male and female and are also placed in alphabetical order. Below you can see the list of names that will be used in 2013. 

    2013 names: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, Wendy

    Each season meteorologists start with the name at the top of the list and work their way down, naming each storm of the season. Rarely are all the names used on the list, but if this does happen they use names from the Greek alphabet. 

    But not all of the names are reused. Names will be removed off of the list if a storm is so devastating that it is deemed inappropriate to use again. Recent retired names include Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012). These removed names then get replaced by other names that start with the same letter and correspond to the same gender as the name being removed. 

    Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. With the season just beginning, meteorologists are closely tracking activity off of the Atlantic. Will Hurricane Andrea happen soon? There is only a 30% chance that this particular storm could be Andrea but only time will tell if this will be the first hurricane of the season.

    Barbara becomes Pacific's first hurricane of 2013
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