Who Names Hurricanes?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CC-BY 2.0

The World Meteorological Organization names hurricanes. A six-year rotation of male and female names is used for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, although if one storm causes so much damage or loss of life that using it again would be traumatic, the organization replaces it, according to NOAA.

The process of naming hurricanes began in 1953, when the United States started using female names for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1978, both male and female names went into use for typhoons, or storms in the Pacific Ocean. In 1979, male names entered use for Atlantic storms as well.

With each successive storm, the list moves through the alphabet, so the first storm for a year would begin with the letter A, the second with the letter B and so on. Only 21 letters have enough names to work in the rotation, but if one season has more than 21 named hurricanes or tropical storms, the system moves to the letters of the Greek alphabet in order, as stated by NOAA.