hurricanes haven’t always been referred to by a list of male and female names.
The practice started in 1941 with no “official” list really being used, but
storms were given only female names (the story goes sailors would name storms
after wives, girlfriends and female relatives). In 1950, the U.S. started
naming storms alphabetically, but instead of using people names the storms were
referred to somewhat innocuously (Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, etc…).
That naming system (using armed forces phonetics) lasted just three years; in
took over naming storms (returning to using female names).
names of hurricanes are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization
(the WMO is part of the United Nations). The WMO is responsible for naming all
storms worldwide; the
falls into the WMO’s Region IV domain (there are a total of six regions).
Twenty-five different countries in Europe, North and
America are part of Region IV. The naming of storms is itself
somewhat unique: up until 1978,
storms were only given female names. That same year, Pacific Ocean storms were
given male names for the first time; at the start of the 1979 hurricane season,
male names were added to the
AtlanticBasin list for the first
noted, storm names are “rotated” every six years (that practice also started in
1979). The letters “Q”, “U”, “X”, “Y”
and “Z” are not used for
AtlanticBasin storms but Pacific hurricanes use names that run all the way
through Z. The reason: there are simply not enough names to go around for those
letters and chances are
AtlanticBasin storm names will get retired rather then
PacificBasin storm names. The exception to the
rule with “X”, “Y” and “Z” names in
Atlantic: when forecasters end up using
names from the Greek alphabet, “Zeta,” “Xi”
and “Upsilon” are used. Storm names starting with the letters “Q” and “U” have
and will not ever be used to name an
even though both male and female names are used in naming hurricanes (did you
realize names alternate alphabetically between male and female), the storms are
always “gender neutral.” Always refer to a storm as an “it” rather than a “he”
or a “she.” And if you want to make a suggestion for a name to be added to the
list, you can e-mail the WMO here.