With the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season beginning on June 1, it’s important to become familiar with all aspects of the season before storms arrive. When the National Hurricane Center upgrades a Tropical Depression to a Tropical Storm, the strengthened storm is given a name which it keeps should it be upgraded to Hurricane Status or weakens back to Tropical Depression Status.
The list of names are maintained by the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. Currently, only tropical cyclones are named in an official capacity; winter storms are not. The World Meteorological Organization from the United Nations develops a list of names for each ocean basin. In the United States, the National Hurricane Center maintains lists from the WMO for Atlantic Basin and eastern Pacific basin storms. Storms that form near Hawaii come from a list managed by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Storms are named in alphabetical order each season. “It is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes are named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence,” states the WMO. “The tropical cyclone/hurricane names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region.”
Storms responsible for significant death/destruction are retired at annual WMO meetings. This is why there will never be another Harvey, Maria, Katrina, Sandy, or Andrew. The WMO selects new names each year to replace the retired names. Otherwise, storm names are recycled every 6 years.
If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season’s list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season’s list of names.
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.