The Atlantic hurricane season lasts a whopping six months of the year, so it's no wonder why we have to keep track of each tropical storm with its own name. Hurricane season, in the Atlantic, goes from June 1 through Nov. 30, with the peak of the season taking place between August and October. In 2022, there have already been nine named storms (which is about half of the predicted named storms for the year). And while each individual storm is unique, you may be surprised to find that the list of hurricane names gets made before the season even starts.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, any tropical storm that produces winds over 39 miles per hour gets a name. Those storms that reach winds over 74 miles per hour are then upgraded to hurricane status. So, although there have been eight other named storms so far this year, the first named hurricane that has actually hit the U.S., in Florida, is Hurricane Ian.
If you are wondering about who gets to name the hurricanes and tropical storms, we've got all the details. Find out how tropical storms get their names, as well as which hurricane names can get recycled and which ones must be retired.
How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?
The list of hurricane names is managed by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). They come up with lists of names that are alphabetical in order and start with a female name then a male name and continue alternating in this way. The list always contains 21 names because the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used for naming.
There is a total of six lists that get rotated throughout the years. So, the list that was used in 2016 is the same list used in 2022.
The only changes to the list occur after a hurricane was so severe and deadly that its particular name has become too representative of that specific storm and then becomes retired, with a replacement chosen by the WMO.
List of Hurricane Names for 2022
Here is the complete list of hurricane names for 2022, with the bolded names representing storms that have already taken place this year.
Alex, Bonnie and Colin were the first tropical storms of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, beginning in early June. Tropical Storm Alex was the only one of the three to hit Florida. Then, Hurricane Danielle was the first official hurricane to appear this year, followed by Hurricane Earl (neither of them hit the U.S.).
After those two hurricanes, tropical storms Fiona, Gaston and Hermine followed.
Hurricane Ian was the first hurricane this year to hit the U.S., and it made landfall on Sept. 28, 2022 in southwest Florida. Ian is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Florida with winds at 150 miles per hour, and cities in the path of the storm face catastrophic damage.
What if All of the Names for the Year Have Been Used Up?
It is possible that in any given year there could be more tropical storms than there are names on the list. This actually happened in 2020—there were a total of 30 named storms which was nine over the list of selected names. Therefore, the additional storms went by the Greek alphabet—with names including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota.
However, because of the distracting and confusing nature of its use, the WMO decided to eliminate using the Greek alphabet and came up with a backup list of names instead.
Retired Hurricane Names
The following names have been retired from use going back to 1953, soon after Atlantic storms were first named. Some years don't have any retired names, while others may have as many as five.
1954: Carol and Hazel
1955: Connie, Diane, Ione and Janet
1961: Carla and Hattie
1964: Cleo, Dora and Hilda
1974: Carmen and Fifi
1979: David and Frederick
1985: Elena and Gloria
1988: Gilbert and Joan
1990: Diana and Klaus
1995: Luis, Marilyn, Opal and Roxanne
1996: Cesar, Fran and Hortense
1998: Georges and Mitch
1999: Floyd and Lenny
2001: Allison, Iris and Michelle
2002: Isidore and Lili
2003: Fabian, Isabel and Juan
2004: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne
2005: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma
2007: Dean, Felix and Noel
2008: Gustav, Ike and Paloma
2010: Igor and Tomas
2015: Erika and Joaquin
2016: Matthew and Otto
2017: Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate
2018: Florence and Michael
2020: Laura, Eta and Iota