Oceanic storms are a common occurrence, but not every storm gets a name. In fact, a storm only gets named after winds reach 30 mph. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that 14 to 21 storms get named every year, with 6 to 10 reaching hurricane status (when winds reach 74 mph).
Credit for the current system of naming tropical storms goes to Australian meteorologist Clement Wragge who started using personal names to designate storms in the late 1880s.
In 1953, The National Hurricane Center started using personal names to simplify communication between meteorologists and the public. The center began creating alphabetical lists of names for Atlantic and Pacific Ocean storms, and at the time only used female names. In 1979, the monikers started alternating between male and female, still going in alphabetical order. The letters Q, U, X, Y and Z aren’t used.
The same list is repeated every six years wish a name being retired and replaced only when it is used for a devastating hurricane. There are currently 92 retired names, including storms from recent years such as Irma, Harvey, Ike, Sandy and more.
Interesting fact….Names starting with the letter “I” have been retired more than names starting with any other letter.
Eight storms have already been named this year in the Eastern Pacific, including Tropical Storm Hilary that is currently impacting southern California and is expected to make its way inland in coming days. Names preceding Hilary include: Adrian, Beatriz, Calvin, Dora, Eugene, Fernanda and Greg.
Storms coming behind Hilary that are strong enough to warrant naming will be dubbed Irwin, Jova, Kenneth, Lidia, Max, Norma, Otis, Pilar, Ramon, Selma, Todd, Veronica, Wiley, Xina, York and Zelda.
As for Atlantic storms, six have been named so far this year, including Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily and Franklin. Emily and Franklin are currently active tropical storms in the south Atlantic.
Storms that follow with winds high enough to warrant naming will be: Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.