The recent coverage on Hurricane Gustav really piqued my interest in the science of hurricanes and everything surrounding them. I kept track of Gustav as it came across the Dominican Republic and read how New Orleans was preparing for what Mayor Ray Nagin called the storm of the century.
Once New Orleans was in the clear a tropical depression in the Atlantic Ocean was upgraded to hurricane status and given a name. This really got me wondering. How do they select names? Why do they have names anyway? My curiosity is your key to answers.
Apparently there is a six year cycle of names for the Atlantic hurricanes (there are other lists for the rest of the world) and if a name is retired then the list is revised. Hurricanes are named to avoid confusion and to make it easier to report on a Hurricane Samantha instead of referring to it as a number or by using the coordinates of the storm.
While it feels like all hurricane names in recent memory (Katrina, Rita, Wilma) have been female they are rotating between both genders for names and have been doing so for nearly three decades. Sadly for most of you out there your name is not on the six year naming convention cycle, but mine is, with the correct spelling to boot.
In three years, if enough hurricanes are named Sean will be taking flight through the Atlantic. For those living along the Atlantic coast I hope that there are not enough hurricanes to make it down to my name but the selfish side of me is curious to hear my name announced on national television as I approach America.
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