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Ask Todd: Naming hurricanes

11:20 PM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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Laura Mincey asks: "Where and how do they decide the names for the hurricanes?"

The process of naming hurricanes actually started hundreds of years ago in the West Indies.

Here in the U.S., we starting naming them in the 1950s. In 1953, the National Weather Service began using female names for storms.

Now flash forward to 1979, that's when the NWS started using both women and men's names.

One name for each letter of the alphabet is selected, except for five: Q, U, X, Y and Z. There are just not enough names to go around for those letters.

For Atlantic Basin hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storms occur.

So who decides what names are used each year? The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. The same lists are reused every six years. So this year's list will be used again in 2018.

One side note: the only time a new name is added is if a hurricane is very deadly or costly. Then the name is retired and a new name is chosen.

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