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Tropical Cyclone Naming History and Retired Names (Text)


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Reason to Name Hurricanes

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older, more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.

The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. For example, one hurricane can be moving slowly westward in the Gulf of Mexico, while at exactly the same time another hurricane can be moving rapidly northward along the Atlantic coast. In the past, confusion and false rumors have arisen when storm advisories broadcast from radio stations were mistaken for warnings concerning an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away.

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History of Hurricane Names

For several hundred years many hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occurred. Ivan R. Tannehill describes in his book "Hurricanes" the major tropical storms of recorded history and mentions many hurricanes named after saints. For example, there was "Hurricane Santa Ana" which struck Puerto Rico with exceptional violence on July 26, 1825, and "San Felipe" (the first) and "San Felipe" (the second) which hit Puerto Rico on September 13 in both 1876 and 1928.

Tannehill also tells of Clement Wragge, an Australian meteorologist who began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century.

An early example of the use of a woman's name for a storm was in the novel "Storm" by George R. Stewart, published by Random House in 1941, and since filmed by Walt Disney. During World War II this practice became widespread in weather map discussions among forecasters, especially Army and Navy meteorologists who plotted the movements of storms over the wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean.

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.

Retired Hurricane Names Since 1954

The NHC 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. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.

There is an exception to the retirement rule, however. Before 1979, when the first permanent six-year storm name list began, some storm names were simply not used anymore. For example, in 1966, "Fern" was substituted for "Frieda," and no reason was cited.

Below is a list of retired names for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. There are, however, a great number of destructive storms not included on this list because they occurred before the hurricane naming convention was established in 1950.

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Retired Atlantic Names by Year

Retired Atlantic Names by Year
  1954
Carol
Hazel
1955
Connie
Diane
Ione
Janet
1956  1957
Audrey
1958  1959 
1960
Donna
1961
Carla
Hattie
1962  1963
Flora
1964
Cleo
Dora
Hilda
1965
Betsy
1966
Inez
1967
Beulah
1968
Edna
1969
Camille
1970
Celia
1971  1972
Agnes
1973  1974
Carmen
Fifi
1975
Eloise
1976  1977
Anita
1978  1979
David
Frederic
1980
Allen
1981  1982  1983
Alicia
1984  1985
Elena
Gloria
1986  1987  1988
Gilbert
Joan
1989
Hugo
1990
Diana
Klaus
1991
Bob
1992
Andrew
1993  1994  1995
Luis
Marilyn
Opal
Roxanne
1996
Cesar
Fran
Hortense
1997  1998
Georges
Mitch
1999
Floyd
Lenny
2000
Keith
2001
Allison
Iris
Michelle
2002
Isidore
Lili
2003
Fabian
Isabel
Juan
2004
Charley
Frances
Ivan
Jeanne
2005
Dennis
Katrina
Rita
Stan
Wilma
2006  2007
Dean
Felix
Noel
2008
Gustav
Ike
Paloma
2009
2010
Igor
Tomas
2011
Irene
2012
Sandy
2013
Ingrid

Alphabetical List of Retired Atlantic Names

Agnes  1972
Alicia  1983
Allen  1980
Allison  2001
Andrew  1992
Anita  1977
Audrey  1957
Betsy  1965
Beulah  1967
Bob  1991
Camille  1969
Carla  1961
Carmen  1974
Carol  1954
Celia  1970
Cesar  1996
Charley  2004
Cleo  1964
Connie  1955
David  1979
Dean  2007
Dennis  2005
Diana  1990
Diane  1955
Donna  1960
Dora  1964
Edna  1968
Elena  1985
Eloise  1975
Fabian  2003
Felix  2007
Fifi  1974
Flora  1963
Floyd  1999
Fran  1996
Frances  2004
Frederic  1979
Georges  1998
Gilbert  1988
Gloria  1985
Gustav  2008
Hattie  1961
Hazel  1954
Hilda  1964
Hortense  1996
Hugo  1989
Igor  2010
Ike  2008
Inez  1966
Ingrid  2013
Ione  1955
Irene  2011
Iris  2001
Isabel  2003
Isidore  2002
Ivan  2004
Janet  1955
Jeanne  2004
Joan  1988
Juan  2003
Katrina  2005
Keith  2000
Klaus  1990
Lenny  1999
Lili  2002
Luis  1995
Marilyn  1995
Michelle  2001
Mitch  1998
Noel  2007
Opal  1995
Paloma  2008
Rita  2005
Roxanne  1995
Sandy  2012
Stan  2005
Tomas  2010
Wilma  2005

Greek Alphabet

In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.  This naming convention has been established by the World Meteorological Organization Tropical Cyclone Programme.


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Page last modified: Thursday, 10-Apr-2014 16:55:21 UTC