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Although Arthur - the storm sweeping the North American East Coast - has been all over the Hurricane Severity Index, his name remains the same.
Recent years have produced a number of hurricanes we are on a first name basis with. Admittedly, Arthur is a more commanding name than some of his deadly predecessors such as Katrina or Sandy. It still begs the question – how do hurricanes get their names?
The NOAA cites a directory invented in 1953 by the National Hurricane Center, which is upheld today by the World Meteorological Organization. The directory provides a pre-established bank of names for each region a storm may hit. The regions are then broken down further into sub-lists. The Atlantic list has six separate year sections with 26 names each, one beginning with every letter of the alphabet. From there, storms are named chronologically by alphabetical order.
When the sixth year passes, the list simply cycles back into the first year. An exception is made to repeating names when the WMO committee agrees that its previous namesake was so detrimental that it must be retired. Recent examples of retired hurricane names not so surprisingly include Katrina, Irene, and Sandy.
— Hurricane Irene (@Hurricane_Irene) August 29, 2011
Arthur did interfere with some July 4th plans in the Mid-Atlantic region, and according to The Seattle Times, has left tens of thousands of Canadians without power. Relatively speaking, these damages are fairly minor, meaning Arthur will more than likely be reused as a name in 2020 when the list is recycled.