Hurricane Names: How Did Irene Get Her Name?

PHOTO: Satellite image of Hurricane Irene
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Hurricane Irene might be the most menacing storm to threaten the U.S East Coast in years. But how'd she get that name?

Hurricane names are chosen from a list selected by the World Meteorological Organization. There are six separate lists of names for Atlantic Ocean storms, with one list used each year.

In 1953, the National Weather Service picked up on the habit of Naval meteorologists of naming the storms after women. Ships were commonly referred to as female, and were often given women's names.

In 1979, male names were added to alternate with the female names.

The six lists used for storms in the Atlantic rotate annually. The list of this year's names will not be reused until 2017. The names get recycled each time the list comes up, with one exception: storms so devastating that reusing the name is inappropriate. In this case, the name is taken off the list and another name is used to replace it.

A storm must start as a Tropical Depression and move on to become a Tropical Storm before it is given a name.

Here is the list of hurricane names for 2011:

Arlene
Bret
Cindy
Don
Emily
Franklin
Gert
Harvey
Irene
Jose
Katia
Lee
Maria
Nate
Ophelia
Philippe
Rina
Sean
Tammy
Vince
Whitney

On the Web:

www.nws.noaa.gov

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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