Hurricane Names Are Picked in the Funniest Way

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hurricane ireneSo what's the deal with "Irene"? Meaning, how'd she, I mean it, I mean the hurricane end up being called Irene, specifically? Why not another female name, like ... Sarah? Or Michelle? (Heh heh). Seriously, though, how does a hurricane acquire an identity?

I'll admit, I never imagined the process of naming hurricanes to be a very regimented one. In fact, I always pictured a little room filled with mad scientist types throwing darts at a list of randomly chosen names: Esmerelda, Bernice, Eunice, Vera. The weather wizards would argue bitterly over every decision. And of course there would be stray cats everywhere, as the scientists would acquire and name a new feline companion after every storm of note.

Turns out I was mistaken, however ...

Back in the day -- meaning, like, the 1940's -- Army and Navy meteorologists got to name tropical cyclones after their wives or girlfriends. (The ultimate revenge!) But since 1979, the National Weather Service has rotated through a list of alternating (male and female) names which get recycled every six years.

Variations are made to the list only in the event of a particularly devastating hurricane. In that case, the name will be removed from the sequence. Katrina, for example, has been retired. Interestingly enough, Irene is from the same cycle Katrina was on back in 2005.

This being just the beginning of hurricane season, the odds are good that we'll be meeting at least a few of the other potential characters allocated for 2011 storms. Should we actually get to 11 hurricanes, we'll be shaking hands with Katrina's replacement, Katia. (Argh, I'm already confused!!)

I bet you're just dying to know who's waiting in the wings, aren't you?? I really shouldn't spoil the surprise ... but, well, alright. Twist my arm, why don't ya?

Here they are ...

Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rena, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

Which one is your favorite?


Image via NASA/Flickr

natural disasters, weather

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PonyC... PonyChaser

I'm pretty excited... I found a site that has lists out through something like 2014. My name is coming up! I know, weird of me, but I'm a weather junkie, and having a storm named "after me" is kinda cool.

momto... momtolittleg

Jose sounds like a badass hurricane!  And didn't we have a fairly decent-sized Ophelia some years ago?

Knuckles Knuckles

Don was already used this year, I thought.

madam... madamekatekate

Katia! It's one of my name's familiars. =) If Kate or Katherine (with a K. 'C' Catherine will never count for me, lol) it would be even more awesome, but I'll take Katia for now.

madam... madamekatekate

**if Kate or Katherine ever gets used. . .



sunmo... sunmoonandstar

I know of Tropical Storm Harvey from this month. That's my son's name so I noticed.

nonmember avatar Traci

I personally think Ophelia is a great name..only bc where I am from we had a political office holder who did tons of damage named Ophelia! hahah!

Momma... MommaSiete

Hurricane Harvey!

medic... medicwife

Don was used this year already, all the names before Irene have been named storms. They go through the alphabet and when the run out, they move to greek letters.

Melissa Leger

i didn't realize this wasnt taught in all schools...i live in south louisiana and this is taught in science every year starting in like firs grade...

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