Forecasters worldwide utilize short, distinctive names to describe tropical storms and hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center says the practice of naming storms is especially important when exchanging detailed weather information among hundreds of widely scattered weather stations, coastal bases and ships at sea.
Since the early 1950s, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. The lists are used in rotation and recycled every six years (i.e., the 2022 list will be used again in 2028).
Only times a list changes is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name for a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. Several storm names have been retired since the lists were created.
Take Hurricane Ida. The category 4 storm hit the U.S. in 2021 with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. Ida made landfall along the southeastern Louisiana coast near Port Fourchon. The storm claimed more than 100 lives and caused $75 billion in damage.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hurricane Committee has retired Ida from the rotating lists of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the death and destruction caused by the category 4 hurricane.
The naming system for hurricanes is different than years past, according to Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist. Traditionally, in a system overseen by the World Meteorological Organization, lists of male and female names were used in a six-year rotation for Atlantic hurricanes. An active storm season can exhaust all names on the list. In the past, Greek letters were used to name the storm. But that’s no longer the case.
“We’re going to have a seventh list of storm names on stand by should we ever run out,” Rizzo said. “That’s our reserve tank that will allow us to retire a storm of notoriety, because you can’t retire a Greek letter. The Greek system is no longer used.”
HURRICANE NAMES FOR 2022