Only one other storm season has ever produced more banishments: 2005, the year of Dennis, Rita, Stan, Wilma, and especially Katrina.
The current storm-naming system that covers the Atlantic basin dates from 1979, when the authorities drew up six alphabetical lists of men’s and women’s names to be used in rotation. A similar system is used in the Eastern Pacific.
The storms are not “named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence,” the international meteorological group says; rather, they are selected to be “familiar to the people in each region.”
Why name storms at all? “The main purpose,” the group says, “is basically for people easily to understand and remember” them.
Whether that is strictly all there is to it has long been the subject of debate and speculation. At least two names that were used for a while, Gilbert and Roxanne, happened to match those of a longtime forecaster at the National Hurricane Center and his daughter.
Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate have already been replaced in the six-year rotating roster. Come 2023, their spots will be filled by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.
First up this year: Aletta.
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