Hurricanes are a bad thing – everyone knows that. But they are also exciting. And they have pretty names. Have you wondered why hurricanes get mostly female names? Just a hint – it has nothing to do with the women’s temper that may be associated with a forthcoming storm ; ) Joke aside, today tropical cyclones are also called with male names due to a lot of feminist protests back in time about calling natural disasters with feminine names.

hurricane katrina 2005 female naming system

Actually, the whole name-the-hurricane officially started back in 1945. The naming system was adopted because of the confusion in people – sometimes more than one tropical storm hits an area and names were needed to distinguish between the storms when discussing them. This was important especially for media broadcasting and warning signals.

But don’t be confused – it is not the hurricanes that get names but the tropical cyclones that may later escalate into a hurricane. To give a simple example: A tropical storm reaches speed of about 39 mph (or c. 63 km/h if you know the metric system) and then it is given a name, e.g. “Tropical Storm Andrea”. However, if the storm escalates and reaches a sustained speed of 74 mph (c. 120 km/h) is becomes named “Hurricane Andrea”. The fact is that news on hurricanes spread wider as they are more dangerous, so people mainly hear of those and think it is the hurricanes that are named. So far, so good, right?

How do the meteorology guys choose the names? People who live in areas that are often hit by tropical storms may have realised that the names are being repeated every few years. At least this is the most common practice. Basically, the oceans are divided into smaller areas that are controlled by meteorology centers (these can have various names such as Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (for the Australian Region) or Central Pacific Hurricane Center (for the Eastern Pacific Ocean) etc.). These meteorological organisations have a specific naming strategy – they prepare lists of potential names for tropical storms and assign them when the storm hits those 63 km/h.

In most cases, a tropical storm is named by the meteorological organisation which is responsible for the area in which the cyclone has developed. The assigned name is then used by almost all other areas. According to Wiki such an exception is the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) which uses its own naming scheme for tropical cyclones within the Philippine Area of Responsibility, regardless of whether it forms within or enters from beyond.

However, the naming strategies for creating a list of tropical storm names used by the Centers around the world vary. In the next part I am going to explain these in more detail and give you the lists of the potential tropical cyclones in the next few years forming in the different parts of the world.