Florence, Irma, Harvey. Just how do hurricanes get their names?
As Hurricane Florence moves across the Atlantic toward a probable landfall on the East Coast, forecasters are saying the storm could make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.
Though the storms are often hard to predict, their names are not.
» Hurricane Florence: What is a Category 4 hurricane and what can it do?
The World Meteorological Organization maintains and updates six alphabetically-arranged lists for Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and Central North Pacific tropical storms. The lists are used in rotation and recycled every six years — names used in 2017 will be used again in 2023.
"Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization," according to the National Hurricane Center.
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The list of names for Atlantic tropical storms for 2017 include: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney. Hurricanes are named after humans because it’s easier to remember than meteorological terms or numbers.
"If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on Dec. 28, it would take the name from the previous season's list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season's list of names. 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," according to the National Hurricane Center.
Learn more about the history of how hurricanes are named.
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