Home Emergency Management News The Naming of Hurricanes and Staying Safe When They Arrive
The Naming of Hurricanes and Staying Safe When They Arrive

The Naming of Hurricanes and Staying Safe When They Arrive


By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt, PMP, CLTD
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Military University

What’s in a name? Everything. A name represents the very identity of a person, place or thing. It represents culture, historic relevance and the diverse society we live in.

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The National Hurricane Center provides a list of names each hurricane season, which includes a pronunciation guide. Below is a sample of the pronunciation of some names:

NOAA names

Source: NOAA.

The Naming Convention of Hurricanes Has a Historical Significance

The naming convention of hurricanes has a historical significance. According to USA Today, “In 1950, the National Hurricane Center started officially naming hurricanes using the international spelling alphabet in use at the time (alpha, baker, Charlie, etc.). In 1953, the NHC began using a pre-selected list of female names for storms in the Atlantic Basin. The naming convention was changed again in 1979, when male names were added to the lists.

Today, an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization maintains the list. 21 Atlantic season names are recycled every six years. In other words, the names are repeated every seventh year — unless the name has been retired.”

Some letters are omitted from the list, including Q, U, X, Y and Z. In some unusually active hurricane seasons, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie are used after the published alphabet list has been exhausted, which is rare since an average hurricane season has five to 10 named storms.

Hurricane Preparedness Is Key

When hurricanes approach, you must take action. Moments save lives. Have an evacuation plan, and remember “Turn Around Don’t Drown” if you’re driving and you see high water. Also, be sure to follow the guidelines of local, state and national officials.

Ready.gov is an excellent resource for hurricane safety and preparation. This website advises you to:

  1. Know your hurricane risk — Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Find out how rain, wind and water could happen where you live, so you can start preparing now.
  2. Make an emergency plan — Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare and anywhere else you frequent.
  3. Gather enough supplies for your household — Pack a go bag or your car trunk with items such as medications, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, and pet supplies.
  4. Warn others if you have a disability that would complicate your evacuation — If you or anyone in your household has a disability, let others know that you may need additional help during an emergency.
  5. Know your evacuation zone — You may have to evacuate quickly due to a hurricane. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with household pets and identify where you will stay.
  6. Recognize warnings and alerts — Be sure to have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Sign up for community alerts in your area, and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which requires no sign-up.
  7. Review important documents — Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like IDs are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password-protected digital space.
  8. Strengthen your home against hurricane-related damage Clear drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, and consider installing hurricane shutters.
  9. Get tech ready — Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast, and purchase backup charging devices to power your electronics.
  10. Help your neighborhood — Check with neighbors, senior adults or those who may need additional help to see how you can be of assistance to others.
  11. Prepare your business — Make sure your business has a continuity plan to continue operating when disaster strikes.

About the Author

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Military University and has 20 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.