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Question

Why and How are Hurricanes Named?

Answer

Hurricanes are named to raise public awareness about storm warnings, to reduce confusion when hurricanes occur simultaneously, and to simplify communication between the media, public, and weather services. The list is repeated every six years, with male and female names rotating down the list. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are excluded because few names begin with these letters.

If NOAA’s National Hurricane Center tracks a storm with wind speed that exceeds 39 miles per hour, the World Meteorological Organization gives it a name. The complete 2008 season name list is: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred. This is the same name list used in the 2002 season, except for a few names that were “retired.”

To see a complete listing of names (including the names of Pacific storms) or to learn more about hurricanes, please visit NOAA's National Hurricane Center or NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Web sites.

This month’s expert: Dennis Feltgen, NOAA National Hurricane Center.

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