Hurricane season is officially here, and it’s expected to be a busy year for storms in the Atlantic.

Two named storms, Arthur and Bertha, formed ahead of the official season, with the third named storm, Cristobal, hitting the Gulf Coast in early June.

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms with sustained wind speed of 39 miles per hour have been named by the National Hurricane Center in the United States.

Before that, storms were named with the longitude and latitude of where they originated.

Meteorologists realised that it was difficult to keep track of unnamed storms – particularly if there was more than one storm at any given time. Naming storms made them easier
to remember.

Storm names are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

There are six lists of 21 names, in alphabetical order and alternating between male and female names.

The list of storm names is repeated every six years.

The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity.

If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO, the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Hence, the Cayman Islands won’t be seeing another Hurricane Ivan and the Sisters Islands won’t be seeing another Hurricane Paloma.

We will also never see a Hurricane Zorro or Tropical Storm Quentin, as the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used in the list.

If there are more than 21 storms in a season, additional names are taken from the Greek alphabet, beginning with Alpha and then Beta.

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