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Alexzander Shinaver, Staff Writer


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How did hurricane naming come about? First, a quick look at how a storm is categorized as a hurricane. According to the Saffir-Simpson scale, a storm becomes a tropical depression at 38 MPH.  It is classified as a tropical storm at 39 to 75 MPH and a Category 1 hurricane at 76-95 MPH  with some damage, a Category 2 hurricane at 96-110MPH with extensive damage. A major hurricane is category 3 and above. A category 3 hurricane is 111-129 MPH with devastating damage,  and a Category 4 hurricane at 130-156MPH with catastrophic damage. Finally, a Category 5 hurricane has wind speeds up to 157+ MPH and catastrophic damage.

The National Hurricane Center and the World Meteorologist Organization came to an agreement in 1950 about naming hurricanes. Every year, the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf Coast get a list of hurricane names.  These names  rotate every six years.  This means that hurricane names for this year will be recycled in 2026.  These names remain the same minus the names that are retired.   The World Meteorologist Organization hurricane names are retired based on the damage and sometimes the fatality rate of the storm.  Once all twenty-one names get used, Greek lettering comes into play.  This has only happened twice; once in 2005 and now in 2020.  Hurricanes are named in alphabetical order. The names are also used alphabetically.  When a Greek letter hurricane name is retired,  the year that name is retired is appended (for example Delta 2020), so the Greek letter itself can be used again.  Hurricane names rotate between male and female names.

Each spring the last season’s hurricane list is reviewed. Certain names get retired if appropriate. Once retired, the names can not be used in the next list. Hurricane season is normally around June 1st and ends around November 30 but storms can still form outside of this window. Peak hurricane season is between August and the end of October.