What's In a Name Maybe a Hurricane! By Colleen Messina

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What's In a Name - Maybe a Hurricane!
By Colleen Messina


1     The list of names sounds like the guest list for a party: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis. However, you hope these guests will never come! It's this year's list of hurricane names. The August 2005 hurricane was called Katrina.
2     Hurricanes used to be named for their latitude and longitude. In other words, hurricanes were named for their location. Weathermen liked this system. They were used to numbers. Numbers were easy for them to follow.
3     However, the public wanted to track hurricanes, too. They didn't like using numbers. They wanted an easier system. Someone then gave each hurricane a name. A name was easier to remember. It also made more sense because the storms moved around.
4     The new system started in 1953. The National Weather Service copied the idea from the Navy. Seamen named their ships after women. The Weather Service decided to name hurricanes after women, too. Hurricanes also had female names because they shifted direction on a whim just like a storm. That seemed like a female trait. It doesn't seem quite fair, does it? This system changed in 1979 when male names were added to the list. These names alternated with female names.
5     The list follows a simple system. The first storm of the year is named after the first name on the list. The list is alphabetical. In 2005, the first storm was Arlene. The next storm started with the letter B. It was named Bret. All of the letters are used except for Q, U, and Z.
6     Six lists of names are rotated for storms in the Atlantic. For hurricanes in the Atlantic, the names may be French, Spanish, or English. These are the languages that are used in countries that border the Atlantic. The list for 2005 will be used again in 2011.
7     If a storm was really bad, that name is not used again. For example, there will not be another hurricane Andrew. Andrew cost a lot of money. It was the costliest hurricane of all time. It hit in 1992 and destroyed areas in Florida. Andrew had winds over 156 miles per hour! It cost $26.5 billion to fix the damage. The name Andrew has been replaced with Alex on the list.
8     One storm that caused almost as much damage as Andrew had no name at all. It was in March, 2003 in Florida. It hit quickly, and it was not during the regular hurricane season. It has been called the No-Name Storm or the Superstorm. No one saw it coming!
9     As much damage as Katrina did, we can expect that that name will be removed from the list. It will be replaced with another feminine name that starts with K.
10     So the next time you hear of a hurricane, you will know a little about its name. No matter when they happen, hurricanes are always unwelcome guests!

Name _____________________________

Date ___________________

What's In a Name - Maybe a Hurricane!


How were hurricanes named before the current system?
  By latitude and longitude
  By the name of the closest state
  By the name of a current political leader
  By the closest continent


When did the system for naming hurricanes change?


What was added to the list of names in 1979?
  Foreign names
  Male names
  Names of flowers
  Names of food


Which group of people might have been pleased with the new names on the lists?
  Women's libbers


What was the name of the hurricane in August/September 2005?


How many lists of names are rotated?


Why might a name be "retired" from a list?
  A particularly bad storm used that name.
  It lost popularity.
  People got bored with that name.
  Names are never retired from the lists.


Which letter is not used as the first letter of a hurricane name?

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