|Hurricanes: What’s in a name?|
For several hundred years, residents of the West Indies often named hurricanes after the Catholic saint’s day on which the storm made landfall.
If a storm arrived on the anniversary of a previous storm, a number was assigned.
For example, Hurricane San Felipe struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 13, 1876. Another storm struck Puerto Rico on the same day in 1928, so this storm was named Hurricane San Felipe the Second.
During World War II, weather officials only gave hurricanes masculine names. These names closely followed radio code names for letters of the alphabet. This system, like the West Indian saints system, drew from a limited naming pool.
In the early 1950s, weather services began naming storms alphabetically and with only feminine names. By the late 1970s, this practice was replaced with the equal opportunity system of alternating masculine and feminine names. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) continues this practice to this day.
Hurricanes are named alphabetically from the list in chronological order. Thus the first tropical storm or hurricane of the year has a name that begins with “A” and the second is given the name that begins with “B.” The lists contain names that begin from “A” to “W,” but exclude names that begin with a “Q” or “U.”
There are six lists that continue to rotate. As the storms affect varying portions of the globe, the naming lists draw from different cultures and nationalities. The lists only change when there is a hurricane that is so devastating, the name is retired and another name replaces it.
Hurricane Names 2011
This is the same list used in the 2005 season with the exception of Don, Katia, Rina, Sean, and Whitney, which replaced Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma, respectively.