Why Are Hurricanes Named After People?

You might have been wondering why so many hurricanes are named after humans names. You may find older hurricanes named after female names only, but now the pool of names for hurricanes has broadened. It may seem understandable that they are named to avoid any confusion in identification, but why is it after human names? And why are they named at all?

Before human names, hurricanes were named either after the year of their occurrence, the places which they wrecked, or with the name of saints such as “St. Paul.” However, this led to a lot of confusion and problem with identification. Hence, hurricanes were then randomly named after human names that are easy to remember, specifically girls’ names, such as “Hurricane Alice.” This helped with the identification of these hurricanes.

You may wonder what determines the name of these hurricanes and how. In this article, we will discuss why hurricanes are named, and that too after people. What is the deciding factor and naming system that decides these names, and what hurricanes are to be named? We will explain all of this in our article.

History Of The Naming Of Hurricanes 

People have struggled to identify hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, for as long as they have been monitoring and reporting them. Until well into the twentieth century, newspapers and forecasters in the United States gave storms names based on their time period, geographic location, or strength; for example, the Great Hurricane of 1722, the Galveston Storm of 1900, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and the Big Blow of 1913. 

Meanwhile, the stormy West Indies hurricanes were called after the Catholic saints on whose feast days they made landfall. One example is “St. Paul.” Before we go further, here’s a video to understand why these hurricanes are named:

However, this also caused confusion among many, as these trivial names became forgettable and hard to remember. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricanes are named to simplify messaging and communications, so these complicated names took away the purpose of naming them – and people had to come up with a new naming system. 

Since short, distinct names are easier to remember and cause less misunderstanding when transmitting critical information about a storm’s tracking, route, and expected impact among weather stations, the media, and the general public; they were started to be named after people.

During WWII, meteorologists began naming hurricanes after their wives and daughters, and if the storms worsened, they were given the names of detested people, starting the custom. According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm Alice was the first to be given a female name in 1953. 

In late May and early June of that year, Alice wrecked Florida, Cuba, and Central America. The names were memorable and distinctive, but the naming was random and only with female names at this point. 

As the 1960s approached, feminists were dissatisfied with the derogatory portrayal of women that dominated every aspect of society, even in seemingly trivial things like hurricane names. At the time, an activist called Roxcy Bolton informed the media that women “truly dislike being arbitrarily equated with calamity.”

After the long due struggle with this naming, by the end of 1978, the system had been modified again by the National Weather Service and the World Meteorological Association to include alternating male and female hurricane names, with Hurricane Bob, which impacted the United States Gulf Coast in 1979, being the first hurricane with a male name. 

Criteria And Process For Naming The Hurricane

The first question is – when are hurricanes named? When a hurricane has the potential to cause an amber/orange or red warning and have a “significant” impact, and has a revolving circulation pattern and a wind speed of 39 miles per hour, it is usually given a name.

Predictably, hurricanes are named by meteorologists. The World Meteorological Organization has six lists for Atlantic hurricanes, each with 21 names, one for each letter except Q, U, X, Y, and Z.

So, how do storms get their names on the West Coast? Their names are drawn from another set of six lists that contain every letter except Q and U. After six years, the naming process is restarted using the initial list. 

For example, the first tropical storm in the Atlantic in 2019 was named “Andrea,” and the first hurricane in 2025 will bear the same name. More so, Andrea, Barry, Jerry, Karen, Wendy, and more are among the 2019 hurricane names for the North Atlantic storms that are most likely to affect the United States.

You might wonder what happens if there are more than 21 storms in one season. The answer is that the Greek alphabet is then used to name the additional storms. This was first devised and used in 2005 when there were 27 hurricanes. 

During its yearly meeting, the World Meteorological Organization decides which names should be removed from the lists. You must wonder why some of these names retire. According to the National Hurricane Center, a hurricane’s name is only retired when it is extraordinarily destructive. 

When a hurricane is exceptionally destructive, it would be improper to rename it to another storm in the future while considering the victims’ feelings, so the WMO decides to remove these names from future lists during their yearly meetings. For example, Florence and Michael are two recently retired names.


To keep the public informed, it is critical that information be accurate, easily comprehended, and efficient when communicated, and the hurricane naming procedure is an excellent example of information diffusion. 

Through our article, we find out that these names are hence named after people to make them easily comprehensible and memorable. As the hurricane naming process was altered through time, today, we have a well-organized and well-thought-of naming system. Next time you know about a hurricane that is named after a human name, you will realize its importance and role.

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