Hurricanes: What's in a Name?

Jun 24, 2013

The Atlantic hurricane season is in full swing. We've already been introduced to tropical storms Andrea and Barry.

But have you ever thought about the folks who share a name with an infamous hurricane? Meet Katrina, Wilma and Dennis.


Katrina Ferreria works as a copy editor at the Tampa Tribune. During the summer of 2005, she found herself writing headlines about the destruction "she" had caused.

That same year Wilma Norton, who now works in marketing and public information at St. Petersburg College, was a writer and editor at the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times). Norton mused about her name in an essay for the newspaper.

Dennis Feltgen is a meteorologist and public affairs officer for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. He offers five facts about tropical storm names, which should make good cocktail party fodder.

  1. The World Metrological Organization began giving tropical storms female names in 1953, with Alice.
  2. The first named hurricane was Barbara, also in 1953.
  3. In 1979, the WMO began alternating male and female storm names.
  4. The most storm names ever retired in a given year was five. In 2005, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma were all retired after causing massive destruction.
  5. Name lists repeat every six years, WMO delegates voting on new names to replace retired ones.

Has your name ever appeared on the tropical storm list? What was that like? Tell us on our Facebook page.