Here's the reason why we name hurricanes

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There's a good reason why scientists name hurricanes. (Source: NASA) There's a good reason why scientists name hurricanes. (Source: NASA)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

What's in a name? Well, when it comes to hurricanes, a lot!

You've undoubtedly heard of infamous hurricane names like Andrew, Katrina and recently, Harvey. 

[RELATED: There are now 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin]

But why do we name hurricanes?

[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click/tap here to see a satellite view of a hurricane]

It's all about making it easier to recognize a dangerous storm and remember the threats it brings. 

[Watch: Aerials show extensive hurricane damage over St. Maarten]

Decades ago, meteorologists would name powerful hurricanes by their latitudinal and longitudinal locations. For example, Hurricane 18.8N 65.4W. That name is not easy to understand and would be very easily confused with another hurricane in the Atlantic. 

[RELATED: Why such an active hurricane season?]

After several variations of trying to name storms, the United States started using female names, an idea that became popular with Army and Navy forecasters during World War II. 

[READ: Hurricanes: Storms like no other]

But according to the National Hurricane Center, the practice of only naming storms after women came to a halt in 1978. In 1979, male and female names were used to name storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

[READ MORE: Q&A: What you should know about hurricanes]

[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click/tap here to see satellite view of hurricane near Louisiana]

The National Hurricane Center is not responsible for creating lists of names for storms. That is left up to the World Meteorological Organization. 

[RELATED: Hurricane warning: Find out how a name affects your travel insurance]

Six lists of names are used in a rotation ranging from the letter A to W. 

The list of names can be found here

[MORE: Weather blog]

The only way the names change is if the storm ends up being a particularly deadly or destructive hurricane. When that happens, the name is retired for good.

Since the 1950s, 82 hurricane names have been retired. Deadly hurricane names like Katrina, Betsy, Andrew, Camille and others will never be used again. 

[READ: Top 3 deadliest hurricanes in the U.S.]

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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