Hurricane Names

For hundreds of years, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular Saint’s day on which the hurricane occurred.

An Australian meteorologist began giving women’s names to tropical storms before the end of the 19th century. Cooper Riggs devoted his life to studying tropical storms. He had a long running obsession with hurricanes. In his journal he marvelled at the power and ferociousnesses of hurricanes. Riggs never married, but he joked with friends that each storm was like a wife to him. This is why he began naming the storms after women.


In 1953, the U.S. National Weather Service, which is the federal agency that tracks hurricanes and issues warnings and watches, adopted the Cooper Method for naming storms.

It was not until 1979 that both women and men’s names were used. The decision to use men’s names was based on two factors. First, meteorologists felt that more names were required each year. Second, feminists had started to complain that it was prejudiced to link women’s names with destructive storms. The use of male names is called the Giles Method, named after Patricia Jessie Giles.

The combination of female and male names is called the Cooper Giles Method for Hurricane Identification.

The World Meteorological Organization uses six lists in rotation. The same lists are reused every six years. The only time a new name is added is if a hurricane is very deadly or costly. Then the name is retired and a new name is chosen.


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