The Naming Process Behind Storms

May 27th, 2020 | Posted by US Weather Insurance in Uncategorized

Does Katrina, Harvey, Irma, Sandy and Andrew sound familiar? No, we are not talking about people, but storms. When you hear these names you may think of the storm’s impact and where you were when the storm made landfall. In 2005, did you watch Katrina’s storm surge and breached levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area on your TV? Or in 2017, did Harvey’s Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour leave you speechless. 

Last year, the 2019 season had 18 named tropical storms. Six of which were hurricanes. Remember Category 5 hurricanes, Dorian and Lorenzo? It’s easy to associate the name with the storm’s devastating and lingering effects. With so many names, and so much damage, is the World Meteorological Organization running out of names? The 2020 tropical storm season begins June 1. Which leaves us to wonder, what will be the names we remember next?

The World Meteorological Organization has six lists of storm names that are recycled every six years. This year, we’re using the same alphabetized list that was used in 2014. The list is as follows:

Naming List Of 2020 Storms

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gonzalo
  • Hanna
  • Isais
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paulette
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred

How It Works

The first tropical storm that attains a sustained wind speed of at least 39 miles per hour in a calendar year is given the name that begins with an “A.”  Naming progresses through the year with names assigned in alphabetical order. Only 21 letters of the English alphabet are in use as you can see. They purposely made the list with letters that hold more common names. Missing letters like “Q” or “Z” make it impossible for a storm to be named Quinton or Zoey. In the event of more than 21 named storms, the storms will take names from the Greek alphabet. This means that the 22nd named storm will be named “Alpha” and a 23rd would be named “Beta.

However, there are exceptions to the rules. If hurricanes are so deadly and damaging, the World Meteorological Organization will decide to permanently retire the name from use. Two 2018 storms, Florence and Michael, caused their names to be retired. Reusing the name of a devastating storm may be looked as insensitive. 

Regardless of WMO’s arsenal of names, we know for certain that Mother Nature never runs out of storms. Take precautions this season and make sure your home is prepared. Visit Ready.gov to find more information about safeguarding yourself, your family and home.

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