The practice of naming tropical storms and hurricanes dates back decades.
The first known meteorologist to assign names to tropical cyclones was Clement Wragge, an Australian meteorologist, who began giving women’s names to storms before the end of the 19th century.
In 1953, the United States abandoned a confusing two-year old plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie) when a new, international phonetic alphabet was introduced. That year, the United States began using female names for storms.
The practice of naming hurricanes solely after women came to an end in 1978 when men’s and women’s names were included in the Eastern North Pacific storm lists. In 1979, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center does not control the naming of tropical storms. Instead a strict procedure has been established by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
For Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of names for each of six years. In other words, one list is repeated every seventh year. The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity.
The name lists have an international flavor because hurricanes affect other nations and are tracked by the public and weather services of countries other than the United States.
The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters. If over 21 named tropical cyclones occur in a year, the Greek alphabet will be used following the “W” name.