For several hundred years, hurricanes in the West Indies were often named after the particular saint’s day on which the hurricane occurred. For example "Hurricane San Felipe" struck Puerto Rico on 13 September 1876. Another storm struck Puerto Rico on the same day in 1928, and this storm was named "Hurricane San Felipe the second." Later, latitude-longitude positions were used. However, experience has shown that using distinctive names in communications is quicker and less subject to error than the cumbersome latitude longitude identification methods.
Using women’s names became the practice during World War II, following the use of a woman’s name for a storm in the 1941 novel "Storm" by George R. Stewart. In 1951 the United States adopted a confusing plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie), and in 1953 the nation’s weather services returned to using female names. The practice of using female names exclusively ended in 1978 when names from both genders were used to designate storms in the eastern Pacific. A year later, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The name lists, which have been agreed upon at international meetings of the World Meteorological Organization, have a French, Spanish, Dutch, and English flavor because hurricanes affect other nations and are tracked by the public and weather services of many countries.
The Tropical Prediction Center in Miami, FL keeps a constant watch on oceanic storm-breeding grounds. Once a system with counterclockwise circulation and wind speeds of 39 mph or greater is identified, the Center gives the storm a name from the list for the current year. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are not included because of the scarcity of names beginning with those letters. Names associated with storms that have caused significant death and/or damage are usually retired from the list.
64 mths ago