Has your name ever been a hurricane? Has your name been “retired?” (Igor and Fifi, I’m talking to you…) The Wall Street Journal has developed a fun, interactive graphic to show past and future named Atlantic storms.
The official practice of giving human names to hurricanes and tropical storms is a recent one, begun in the 1950′s, but the tradition goes back at least to the early 1800′s, when hurricanes were given the name of the saint on whose day they made landfall. Later, meteorologists identified storms by giving their latitude and longitude, which was both cumbersome and fast-changing. The current system of alternating men’s and women’s names began in 1978.
You can get the full history from the National Hurricane Center.
Any storm that causes major damage to life or property is “retired” for at least five years. This helps to clarify historic references, legal action, insurance claims, and other sources of confusion. (So long, Katrina, at least for a while…)
FYI, “Margaret” is not in the rotation for “M” hurricane names. And I can’t say that I’m really sorry about that. The last thing I need is to have a tropical depression named after me.