Hurricane “Earl?” Hurricane “Katrina?” Who picks storm names, and what’s next on the list?

Nobody can tell you how serious Hurricane Earl might be, but we can tell you why Earl has that name. (A pretty friendly name for such a potential disaster.)

Briefly, here’s how the monikers for storms are picked. The world is roughly divided into six major basins where  storm activity occurs. Each basin has an organization that comes up with lists of names a few years in advance. The basins don’t all follow the same rules for coming up with the names. In one basin, they don’t even use human names necessarily.  But the namers for the North Atlantic and Northeastern Pacific share the following system, according to the National Hurricane Center: male and female names alternate in alphabetical order, and the gender that the list starts with alternates every year. The lists are recycled every six years.

(The difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons is another fascinating story, which we explain here.)

Letters that rarely begin names (like Q) are excluded from consideration. (There will never be a Hurricane Quetzalcoatl.) Not until  a tropical depression transforms into a tropical storm is it eligible for a name. Wherever the storm-level activity kicks in determines which basin has naming privileges.

When tropical storms reach a certain velocity, they become hurricanes or cyclones. Hurricane names can be retired from the list if they have caused a certain level of destruction. And if there are so many storms in one region that all the alphabetical names are used up, additional storms are called “Alpha,” Beta,” etc., through the Greek alphabet (alpha, beta . . .)

The following are the remaining names on the 2010 North Atlantic list: Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, and Walter.

Originally the names for storms near North America were only female. The sexist implications of the practice led to the current system.

Historically, an earl is a title of nobility, a rank below that of marquis and above that of viscount. Sort of a medieval middle manager. The name Katrina is a version of Katherine, which derives from the Greek word meaning “pure.”

Affiliated Computer Services to add another 135 jobs this fall web site affiliated computer services

Colorado Springs Business Journal August 21, 2009 | Becky Hurley With close to 300 employees already graduated from training or in customer service positions, Affiliated Computer Services needs to hire another 135 people by mid-September.

Spokesman Chris Gilligan said the hires will occur on or before it’s next training session begins Sept. 8.

“We’re still hiring – and are looking for employees who can handle inbound customer service calls and product billing questions, should they arise,” he said, adding that the local office handles customer service for a single ACS customer.

Gillian said there will be a number of management positions included in the openings. site affiliated computer services

Gilligan said the company locates its call center operations “where it makes good business sense,” and said he was not concerned that other call employers, such as PRC, another inbound and outbound telemarketing firm hubbed at Tiffany Square since 2007, would also be competing for the new hires.

Becky Hurley


  1. Brianna -  May 11, 2015 - 2:49 pm

    Can you please name the next hurricane!!!! – Brianna !!!!

  2. online shoes -  March 29, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    Impressive, definitely superb material. This blog is absolutely awesome. I bookmarked it all of which certainly return again.

  3. Eye of the Storm -  September 22, 2010 - 5:50 pm

    Names are used because it is more fun that way. Imagine Numbering hurricanes! 5 was a pretty bad storm, no 2 was worse etc etc…

    • RedLeafRenegade -  October 21, 2015 - 11:52 am

      Will there ever be a Hurricane Jeff? :)

  4. From New Zealand -  September 6, 2010 - 6:30 pm

    They used to always be male names until womens liberation got involved around 1970.

  5. Malik -  August 31, 2010 - 7:34 am

    WHEN WILL HURRICANE EARL HAPPEN!??? And is there ever going to be a “Hurricane Obama”?

  6. Mark Billingsley -  August 31, 2010 - 12:40 am

    I can’t tell you exactly who picks the names. I do know that feminine names prevail for awhile, then masculine names are in vogue.

  7. a travel writer is a good job? -  August 30, 2010 - 4:11 pm

    Don’t be so sensitive to a gender problem, instead try to come to terms and solve a problem if there is any. For example a byproduct of excess is art work. In my case I am too dull and too lazy. Nyan!

  8. #1 Skillet fan -  August 30, 2010 - 3:59 pm

    Is there ever going to be a “Hurricane Obama”?

  9. ida -  August 30, 2010 - 3:16 pm

    Interesting stuff.
    There was a hurricane this year named after me, and for the enitire time, my sister said, “Get away from me, you natural distater.” She was joking, but it was extremely annoying!

  10. Alan Turner -  August 30, 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Give conjunctions a try and use them correctly

  11. darrah -  August 30, 2010 - 1:41 pm


  12. darrah -  August 30, 2010 - 1:40 pm

    when will hurricane earl happen!!?!?!?

  13. John Jones -  August 30, 2010 - 1:33 pm

    The use of male names for hurricanes flies in the face of tradition where the earth and its natural phenomena are universally regarded as feminine.

    The urge to masculinize our feminine agencies could only have been thought up by a bureaucrat or by a self-absorbed, unworldy scientist.

    It’s a pity.

  14. HURRICANE EARL | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 30, 2010 - 12:33 pm

    [...] DUKE OF EARL” in the “EYE” of the “HURRICANE EARL” finally has found his Dukedom — for his Dutchess or Queen if it isn’t a girl? and [...]

  15. iluvmykids -  August 30, 2010 - 12:01 pm

    Real interesting stuff. Good job dictionary.com for the information you give on the HOT WORDS.

  16. kayla -  August 30, 2010 - 11:55 am

    pray for them who could get hit by EARL!!!!

  17. CP -  August 30, 2010 - 11:54 am

    Interesting info..
    But I don’t think they should name disasters using people’s names!
    I know several people who have gotten “teased” because they happen to share a name with a current hurricane.


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