Living in the Gulf South we are all aware that hurricanes have names. What you might not be aware of is how those names are chosen. The annual list of storm names is created by the World Meteorological Organization. The list alternates between masculine and feminine names. The reason they give names to storms is to add clarity to forecasts and tracking information.

However, when a storm is particularly destructive or deadly its name is "retired" from service. Such will be the case with the names Laura and Dorian. The effects of Hurricane Laura are still being felt here in South Louisiana. Dorian was a major storm that wreaked havoc over the Bahamas in 2019.

Those aren't the only name changes recently announced by the World Meteorological Organization. The group also announced that should a particular hurricane season exceed 21 named storms instead of using the Greek alphabet as we have done in 2005 and in 2020, forecasters will instead use names from an overflow list. That list will run in alphabetical order beginning with the letter "A".

The reason for ditching the Greek alphabet had a lot to do with how that alphabet translates into other languages. There was also some confusion noted on the proper way to pronounce some of those Greek letters. In the end, the WMO opted to keep it simple and just go back to regular names that most of us can pronounce and spell.

The most recently retired names came from the year 2018. Those names were Michael and Florence. 2005's massive hurricane season resulted in five different storm names being retired. I bet you can name two of them right off the bat, That's right, Rita and Katrina as well as Dennis, Stan, and Wilma were retired following that busy year.

By the way, if your name is Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, or Fred, you're on deck for the 2021 Hurricane Season. Let's hope we don't need any of those names this year.

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