How Hurricanes Get Their Names

Environmental Science

How Hurricanes Get Their Names

Hurricanes are some of the most powerful natural disasters that occur on Earth. With their intense winds and heavy rains, hurricanes can cause widespread damage and devastation, leaving communities to pick up the pieces in their wake. However, have you ever wondered how these tropical storms get their names? In this article, we'll explore the history and science behind how hurricanes are named.

History of Hurricane Naming

Naming hurricanes is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, the practice has been around since the 1800s, and it has evolved over time. In the early days, hurricanes were named by latitude and longitude coordinates, which could be confusing and easily mistaken for other storms.

Then, in the 1940s, the United States began using military alphabet names (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.) to identify storms. However, this method was complicated and lacked consistency. It wasn't until the 1950s that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began using female names to identify hurricanes. This practice lasted until 1978 when male names were introduced to create an equal balance between male and female names.

In 2022, the NHC updated its list of names for hurricanes and tropical storms. The organization now includes names from different cultures and backgrounds, recognizing the global impact of these storms. Some of the new names on the list include Adelina, Knut, and Zania.

Science of Hurricane Naming

The naming of hurricanes serves a practical purpose beyond identification. Naming storms helps to communicate the threat and urgency of the storm to the public, media, and emergency response officials. It is easier for people to remember a name than a set of coordinates or a series of numbers.

Hurricane names are now chosen from a predetermined list of names that rotate every six years. There are six lists of names, and each list is used every six years in a rotating cycle. If a storm is particularly deadly or costly, that name is retired and replaced with a new name.

The lists of names follow an alphabetical order, and each name starts with a different letter of the alphabet. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included in the list of names, as there are very few names that start with these letters. Names are selected from various languages and cultures to avoid bias towards a specific region or group of people.


In conclusion, the practice of naming hurricanes has a rich history and serves a practical purpose in communicating the threat of these natural disasters to the public. The science behind naming hurricanes involves predetermined lists of names that rotate every six years and follow an alphabetical order. This allows for easy identification and helps to avoid confusion during hurricane season. As we continue to learn and adapt to the effects of climate change, the naming of hurricanes will undoubtedly continue to evolve and change.