Saturday, August 30, 2008

Naming the Storms

About 55 years ago, the World Meteorological Organization did away with the latitude-longitude ID system of hurricanes. The group followed the practice of assigning the storms a female name, in the fashion of vessel-naming, and as a by product of the stereotypical trait of unpredictability assigned to women. In 1979, the organization took a leap forward and de-womanized the hurricanes by including male names.

Six years' worth of names exist and these are rotated every six years. So for example, the 2008 hurricane names will be reused in 2014. The name list reflects French, Spanish, Dutch and English appellations to coincide with people/languages usually tracking the storms. The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters.

The National Hurricane Center provides lists of hurricanes for all regions of the world.

If a season produces more than the 21 named storms, then the Greek alphabet is used to name the surplus storms. The deadly 2005 hurricane season stretched into the Greek alphabet, concluding with Zeta.

The map shows the trails of the 2005 hurricane season. (To get the big picture, go here.)

When a hurricane produces devastating results, its name is retired from the list and another name is selected to replace it. I'm familiar with a few of the retired names: Dora (1964), Camille (1969), Hugo (1989), Andrew (1992) and Katrina (2005).

To receive a name, a Tropical Depression must evolve into a Tropical Storm.

The 2008 line-up is already into its eighth designated storm. [TWO MORE STORMS ACTIVE SINCE THE FIRST POST

  • Arthur
  • Bertha
  • Cristobal
  • Dolly
  • Edouard
  • Fay
  • Gustav
  • Hanna
  • Ike
  • Josephine
  • Kyle
  • Laura
  • Marco
  • Nana
  • Omar
  • Paloma
  • Rene
  • Sally
  • Teddy
  • Vicky
  • Wilfred
I'm sending my well wishes to the people of New Orleans and environs now as Gustav is making a beeline for the Gulf Coast.

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