Why are tropical cyclones named?
are named to provide ease of communication between forecasters
and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and
warnings. Since the storms can often last a week or longer and
that more than one can be occurring in the same basin at the
same time, names can reduce the confusion about what storm is
being described. According to Dunn and Miller (1960), the first
use of a proper name for a tropical cyclone was by an Australian
forecaster early in this century. He gave tropical cyclone names
"after political figures whom he disliked. By properly naming a
hurricane, the weatherman could publicly describe a politician
(who perhaps was not too generous with weather-bureau
appropriations) as 'causing great distress' or 'wandering
aimlessly about the Pacific.'" (Perhaps this should be brought
back into use ;-)
During World War II, tropical cyclones were informally given
women's names by US Army Air Corp and Navy meteorologists (after
their girlfriends or wives) who were monitoring and forecasting
tropical cyclones over the Pacific. From 1950 to 1952, tropical
cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean were identified by the
phonetic alphabet (Able-Baker-Charlie-etc.), but in 1953 the US
Weather Bureau switched to women's names. In 1979, the World
Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the US National Weather
Service (NWS) switched to a list of names that also included
The Northeast Pacific basin tropical cyclones were named using
women's names starting in 1959 for storms near Hawaii and in
1960 for the remainder of the Northeast Pacific basin. In 1978,
both men's and women's names were utilized.
The Northwest Pacific basin tropical cyclones were given women's
names officially starting in 1945 and men's names were also
included beginning in 1979. Beginning on 1 January 2000,
tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific basin are being named
from a new and very different list of names. The new names are
Asian names and were contributed by all the nations and
territories that are members of the WMO's Typhoon Committee.
These newly selected names have two major differences from the
rest of the world's tropical cyclone name rosters. One, the
names by and large are not personal names. There are a few men's
and women's names, but the majority are names of flowers,
animals, birds, trees, or even foods, etc, while some are
descriptive adjectives. Secondly, the names will not be allotted
in alphabetical order, but are arranged by contributing nation
with the countries being alphabetized.
The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are not named.
The Southwest Indian Ocean tropical cyclones were first named
during the 1960/1961 season.
The Australian and South Pacific region (east of 90E, south of
the equator) started giving women's names to the storms in 1964
and both men's and women's names in 1974/1975.
HURRICANES, TYPHOONS, AND TROPICAL CYCLONES
Christopher W. Landsea
NOAA / AOML
4301 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Florida 33149