2021 Hurricane Names For The Season
Have you ever wondered why tropical storms and hurricanes are given names? It’s not to make these disastrous storms seem friendlier, that’s for sure. Storms are given names to make them easier to remember. But who picks the names? Read on to find out!
List of 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Names:
How Are Storms Named?
Prior to the 1950s, meteorologists kept track of hurricanes and tropical storms by the year and the storms’ order for that year. So, for instance, the fifth tropical storm of 1938 was referred to as just that — the “fifth tropical storm of 1938” or “Storm 5.”
Tropical storms and hurricanes that did a lot of damage received unofficial names—like the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane, which did so much damage that the Miami government implemented the first known building code in the United States.
During the 1950s, meteorologists realized that it was difficult to keep track of unnamed storms—particularly if there was more than one storm happening at any given time. By 1953, meteorologists around the United States were using names for tropical storms and cyclones.
In those days, the storm names were all female. Both male and female names were used for Northern Pacific storms in 1978, and by 1979, male and female names were being used for Atlantic storms, too.
The World Meteorological Organization is responsible for developing the names for both Northern Pacific and Atlantic storms. They use six lists of names for Atlantic Ocean and Eastern North Pacific storms. These lists rotate, one each year.
That means every six years, the names cycle back around and get reused (which happened in 2019). If a hurricane does tremendous damage, such as Katrina, Sandy, or Harvey, the name is retired and replaced by a different name beginning with the same letter.
The names alternate between male and female names, listed alphabetically and in chronological order starting with A and omitting Q and U, X, Y, and Z. If more than 21 names are required during a season, the Greek alphabet is used.
2020 was one of the most active years for hurricanes. (It was so active that we had to dip into the Greek alphabet for names.) There were 30 named storms (beating the record of 28 in 2005). Eight names may be worth of retirement from 2020 including Iota, Eta, Zeta, Delta, Sally, Laura, and Isaias, however, there is currently no official rule for retiring names from the Greek alphabet.
Which Hurricane Names Have Been Retired?
Here is a list of retired hurricane names in the past 10 years:
2010: Igor, Thomas
2015: Erika, Joaquin
2016: Matthew, Otto
2017: Harvey, Irma, Maria, Nate
2018: Florence, Michael
The list of retired hurricane names from 2019 and 2020 won’t be made until spring 2021 due to COVID-19.
Tropical Storms vs. Hurricanes
The National Hurricane Center explains that names are only given to tropical storms that have sustained wind speeds higher than 39 mph. These names will stay with the storm as it reaches hurricane strength (maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher). This means Tropical Storm Debby, for example, will become Hurricane Debby if it reaches maturity.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1st, peaks September 10th, and ends November 30th, although hurricanes can form at any time.
List of 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Names:
Note: The 2020 Hurricane Season was so busy, they had to move onto the Greek alphabet for names: