The first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has made landfall in the U.S. state of Texas on Saturday, with maximum winds of 90 mph and pouring rains, as well as flash flood warnings and stay-at-home advice.
The hurricane is called Hanna, a name that does not necessarily sound virile enough for the “significant structural damage” some countries have reported soon after it came.
Weather forecasters give each tropical cyclone a name to avoid confusion, but how are the names chosen?
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that in the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily, until the mid-1900s, when people started giving storms women’s names.
In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list that is arranged alphabetically.
But it was not until 1979 when men’s names were introduced and began alternating with women’s names. Since then, tropical cyclones receive names in alphabetical order each year.
There is a strict procedure to determine a list of tropical cyclone names.
In general, tropical cyclones are named according to the rules at a regional level.
Atlantic tropical storms, for example, had been named from lists compiled by the U.S. National Hurricane Center since 1953, and are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the WMO.
There are six lists that are being used for Atlantic tropical cyclones in rotation every six years. The 2020 list, for instance, will be used again in 2026.
There are 21 names in each list. Hanna, starting with an “H” is one of them, as well as other good ones such as Bertha for “B”, Josephine for “J”, and Teddy for “T”.
Currently, there is no name starting with the letters “Q,””U,””X,””Y,” or “Z.”
A name could be erased from the list if a storm is extremely deadly or costly, and a new name will be selected to replace it.
There are several names that have been retired. Infamous storm names include Mangkhut (Philippines, 2018), Irma and Maria (Caribbean, 2017), Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (United States, 2012), and Katrina (United States, 2005).
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.
The WMO said that “it is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons are not named after any particular person.”
One frequently asked question on the U.S. National Hurricane Center website is “Can I have a tropical cyclone named for me?”
The answer is no, euphemistically though. Enditem