Shortly before Labor Day weekend, Hurricane Idalia swept through parts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, as if violently declaring the end of summer. (Here’s how Hurricane Idalia compares to the last 25 most destructive named storms to hit the Gulf Coast.)
Idalia? There’s a Cuban sprinter named Idalia Hechavarría, and it’s the name of the character played by young Isla Colbert on the Netflix series “From Scratch” – but it’s not a very common name. Other hurricane names, though, are popular among parents naming their offspring – even though it’s doubtful that they have the storms in mind when they make their choices. (Here’s a list of the most popular names in America since 1880.)
To assemble a list of the most popular baby names that were once used for hurricanes, 24/7 Tempo drew storm names from the retired storm name history published by NOAA’s National Hurricane and Central Pacific Hurricane centers, then consulted the Social Security Administration’s register of Social Security card applications in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available. Only names occurring at least 500 times were included.
Hurricanes and other violent storms used to be remembered by the year they happened (“the great storm of 1703”), the saint’s feast day on which they occurred (“Hurricane San Felipe”), or the place they most devastated (“the Great Galveston Hurricane”).
At some point in the late 19th century, somebody – possibly an Australian meteorologist – conceived the idea of naming hurricanes after women, a practice the U.S. adopted in 1953. Beginning in 1978, men’s and women’s names were alternated.
Today, the determination of what to christen a tropical storm, which may develop into a hurricane, is made by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The group publishes lists covering six years at a time for the Atlantic and the Eastern and Central North Pacific.
Up next for the Atlantic? Jose, Katia, and Lee.
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