What’s In A Hurricane Name?

By Olivia Richard
Published: Monday, September 5, 2016 - 2:00pm
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2016 - 2:02pm
(Photo courtesy of National Weather Service)
(Screen capture from Facebook)
The National Weather Service took to Facebook to settle some discussion over the pronunciation of the recent hurricane’s name.

If you thought the latest hurricane to hit the Gulf of Mexico had a Harry Potter-themed name, you may want to take a second before you reach for your wands.

Hermine is a name that has been on the list since the early 70s. The hurricane recently made landfall Thursday near the tiny town of St. Marks, 30 minutes south of Tallahassee, Florida with winds of 80 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service took to Facebook to settle some discussion over the pronunciation of the recent hurricane’s name making it clear that the name has nothing to do with Hermione Granger,  a main character in the Harry Potter series.

The hurricane pronounced, “her-MEEN” stems from French roots. However, in German versions of the internationally acclaimed series Hermione, is named “Hermine,” which is the feminine form of the name Heman.

How do storms and hurricanes get their names? It’s a good question. 

The tradition of assigning names to storms and Hurricanes is a relatively recent occurrence . The National Hurricane Center created an official list of names in 1953.

“Before the 1950s, naming systems was pretty random,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “Back in WWII, they use to name the storms after people's wives or girlfriends but they needed something uniform that different parts of the world could identify with.”

That ponderous task has since fallen to a  special international committee branch of the United Nations aptly called the World Meteorological Committee

The committee manages the six international lists of names that alternate male and female. The lists are rotated every 6 years, meaning the 2016 list will be revisited again in 2022.

“The only time there’s a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of it’s name would be very inappropriate, especially due to reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then the committee retires it.” said Feltgen.

The process of selecting a new name is somewhat simple. Each member country receives one vote which they can use to vote for or against the various names submitted to replace the retired one.

In order to maintain regional, cultural and genealogical diversity, “there is a strict system, said Feltgen. ”If it’s a male Hispanic name it will be replaced with a male Hispanic name. And then one comes out successful and then that name will go on that list.”

There are currently 80 names of the retired list, some retired names include: Katrina,  Rita, Andrew and Donna.

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