Three years ago, hurricane Irma was threatening Florida, hurricane Jose was gathering strength in the Atlantic and Hurricane Katia was preparing “herself” in the Gulf of Mexico. These are just a few from the different names that hurricanes have. It’s true, they wreak havoc everywhere they go and we humans have a hard time trying to face their destruction and prevent their wreath. Nevertheless, you can’t help, but wonder how did these super-powerful energetic forces of nature get their names? They sound like quite “friendly” names if you ask me. However, whenever you hear those names after the word “hurricane” all hell can break loose. Let’s see!
How do hurricanes get their names?
Hurricanes get their names from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in order for the media to find it easier to disperse the information and raise awareness regarding an upcoming storm that could prove very dangerous to various parts of our worlds. Basically, hurricanes are assigned names for the purpose of public safety.
The World Meteorological Organization has a predetermined list of names for hurricanes that might occur in the Caribbean Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. The WMO has already planned out names for the next 6 years. There are about 21 names per year and we should cross our fingers never to hear those names in the same phrase with hurricane these years.
How are Hurricane names chosen by WMO?
More or less, the names are assigned alphabetically. If somehow there are more than 21 hurricanes in a year (let’s hope not), then the WMO will name the others using the Greek letters: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on. There have been a few occasions when hurricanes have been named Alpha (1972, 1973, 2005), but usually, they’re named after the list already made by the World Meteorological Organization.
Every year there is a WMO committee meeting where representatives of all the countries are present. Some hurricane names can be retired for good if one country requires so. For example, Katrina, Sandy, and Ike have done so much damage in the past, that they’ve decided to cut these names from the future lists in order to prevent a disastrous reaction from the population who usually doesn’t know that hurricanes just get random names.
Although everything seems so planned out, this wasn’t always the case. For example, at the beginning of the 1950s, storms in the Atlantic were named after the Army/Navy phonetic alphabet: Charlie, Dog, Baker, Able, etc. Then the convention changed and decided that female names should also be used. Then in 1979, following the increasingly popular talk on gender equality, male names were also added so that hurricanes and storm would be assigned both female and male names.
What happens if a hurricane gets your name?
Nothing, actually. What could happen? Nevertheless, there have been discussions regarding this aspect. To make things clear from the start, hurricanes don’t get their names from specific persons. They get random names based on the letters of the alphabet, but there were cases when a hurricane shared its name with a couple of people. For example, in 2016 when the Matthew storm wreaked havoc in Haiti, a man named Matthew wasn’t happy with the naming of that powerful storm.
In another instance, there were voices saying that a hurricane name is not strong enough. For example, the word Matthew is not strong enough to express the real power and ferocity of the ominous hurricane that swept through Haiti in 2016. How about that? In the middle of chaos and havoc, some people find themselves talking about names. Nevertheless, names and words and important and can great disorder just by uttering them. Mainly that is why the name “Matthew” was deleted from the list with hurricane names due to its ferocity and damages it caused some four years ago. It was replaced by the name “Martin”.
There were other people who wanted hurricanes to be named by them. One guy even tried to get WMO to name a hurricane after his ex-wife. Yep, that’s the level of crazy people can get to sometimes.
Bottom line is, hurricanes get their names randomly from the World Meteorological Organization; still, they take care that the names of the most ferocious storms get erased so they wouldn’t cause any more needless chaos in the case of another such event,