From Fiona to Ian: How hurricanes get their names
Find out if you could have the same name as a hurricane
If your name is Ian or Fiona, you’ve probably been getting a lot of attention lately.
That’s the case for six-year-old-Fiona Williams, who lives in Sydney, Cape Breton, which is an island north of mainland Nova Scotia.
She’s been collecting newspapers that feature stories about post-tropical storm Fiona, which hit her city and Atlantic Canada last weekend.
As for Hurricane Ian, people in Florida have been dealing with its aftermath this week as well.
Headlines are spreading across the internet as hurricanes with those names are moving inland from the Atlantic Ocean and leaving a path of destruction behind them.
So, how do hurricanes even get their names and which names are next on the list?
Keep reading to find out.
The names are pre-determined
Hurricanes and tropical storms are given names so that officials can communicate clearly about them with the public.
According to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in the United States, the current naming convention started in 1953, when women’s names were given to hurricanes.
Men’s names were introduced in 1978.
An international committee organized by the World Meteorological Association chooses the names.
There are 21 names on the list at all times, beginning with the letter A and going down the alphabet, but skipping letters Q, U, X, Y and Z.
That’s because there aren’t many names that start with those letters.
The names need to be easy to understand and they can’t all sound the same. That’s especially important if there is more than one storm occurring at the same time.
“English, French and Spanish names are used in balance on the list in order to reflect the geographical coverage of Atlantic and Caribbean storms,” according to the World Meteorological Association.
The list of names is recycled every six years.
And if there is a very active hurricane season, there is a supplemental list of names to draw from.
What about retired names?
Some names are retired, or removed from the list, if those storms are particularly devastating or cause deaths.
Names such as Katrina, Sandy and Juan have all been retired and replaced with new names.
According to a New York Times article in 2007, Katrina also dropped in popularity among baby names after the storm hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.
Still, Katrina could make a comeback. Retired names could be revived after 10 years.
Will my name be on the list?
Here is a list of names in the rotation for the next five years!
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With files from Thompson Reuters