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How Hurricanes are Named (and Why)

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How Hurricanes are Named (and Why)

Hurricane Irene was all across the news last week. As with most big hurricanes that threaten land, Irene’s human name has become a buzzword throughout her projected path. Millions of people are hearing, speaking, researching and remembering it, much like her cousins “Katrina,” “Rita,” and “Ike.”

But where do those names come from? Why do we give human names to violent, mindless masses of water and wind? The practice dates back to the 1950s, although people have been naming tropical cyclones for centuries.

Before the 1940s, only the worst storms were given names, usually based on the place or time of year they made landfall: There was the Sea Islands Hurricane of 1893, the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the Miami Hurricane of 1926 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, to name a few. Scientists and forecasters often assigned unofficial numbers to tropical cyclones — Tropical Storm One, Hurricane Two, etc. — but the practice of using more memorable and relatable names didn’t begin until the 1950 hurricane season.

Next: What will be the name of future hurricanes?

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Megan, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, MNN.com strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.

66 comments

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12:49PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thank you Megan, for Sharing this!

4:53PM PST on Jan 27, 2013

Thanks. I also remember Hurricane Andrew as my daughter and family lived just north of Homestead

2:17AM PST on Jan 27, 2013

Interesting

9:15PM PST on Jan 26, 2013

thanks for the info

11:46AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Interesting, thank you for info.

11:44AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

Interesting, thank you for info.

8:56AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

secret's out now

10:56PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

oh god male names to.

10:39AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

Thank you,very interesting

10:05AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

Interesting., Always wondered how they came up with the names. Thanks

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