How do storms like Tropical Storm Bonnie get their names?

As far as storms and hurricanes go, Bonnie isn’t a huge threat. Wait — do you realize how strange it is to refer to a mass of air and water by name, let alone an apellation that reminds you of that neighbor who bakes really great chocolate chip cookies?

Briefly, here’s how the names 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: Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona,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.

Ironically, the name Bonnie couldn’t have a  more pleasant meaning: the Scottish proper noun and occasional adjective can mean “pretty, healthy, or peaceful.” A deeper irony is found in the lyrics to ubiquitous Scottish folk song, “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean:”

“Oh blow the winds o’er the ocean

And blow the winds o’er the sea

Oh blow the winds o’er the ocean

And bring back my Bonnie to me.”

Do you think giving storms human names is unfair to people who share that name? What do you think storms should be called?

And speaking of names, ”typhoon” and “hurricane” derive from the names of Gods and monsters. Learn the gruesome details here.

Polish president encourages Internet use in commencement address

AP Worldstream May 20, 2003 | COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer 00-00-0000 Dateline: ENGLEWOOD, Colorado Students and professors of an online university gathered around a small screen Tuesday to watch Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski give a commencement speech via Web cast.

Kwasniewski urged them to use their technology skills to educate others about the Internet.

He told several students and professors from Jones International University that the online school was a tool for the future. “I hope soon to have the possibility to be able to join the global community,” he said, adding, “Technology should be an important ingredient. It may be and should be a tool for social development.” Eighty-six graduates from five countries were expected to tune into the commencement around the world via the Web cast for Jones International, an online school where students log in to take classes and can earn undergraduate or master’s degrees. this web site jones international university

Kwasniewski was chosen to speak in part because of his effort to modernize Poland’s communication system. He promoted Internet for Polish Schools, a program to provide computer equipment and Internet access to schools in rural communities in Poland.

He taped his speech from his palace in Poland last week and it was aired with other speeches by professors Wednesday. Kwasniewski said he hoped that one day his country would have the expertise to offer the same kind of online programs as Jones International. see here jones international university

Three students were at the school’s headquarters to watch the commencement, Diane Miller, 35, traveled to Colorado from Tennessee to meet some of her professors face to face.

“I think it is pretty impressive to have the president of Poland speak especially because it solidifies the importance of this university internationally,” she said.

Jones International University, founded in 1993 by cable magnate Glenn Jones, has about 2,000 students in 70 countries.

___ On the Net:

COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer


  1. Alita Cotten -  October 25, 2012 - 3:19 am

    Many thanks in helping understand how this came about, it has been a puzzle for me.

  2. Alita Cotten -  October 25, 2012 - 3:18 am

    Many thanks on the information this has puzzle me for years.

  3. OnceInABlueMoon -  April 29, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    I always thought that the letter Q was graceful and elegant, almost swan-like. It looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful. Quetzals are also really cute and beautiful birds.

  4. saturdaynight -  July 24, 2010 - 4:53 am

    We always call tyhoon by number in Japan, but the wiki says that some Asian names have been adopted to call them occurring outside Japan. One name after Japanese is Tenbin meaning Libra, under which the goddess of justice Asaraia controls. Typhon, the reported origin of Typhoon, that had a fierce battle with Zeus was outsmarted by Mercury. By the way the charactristics of people born under the sign of Libra is self-possessed and harmonious.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top