Though the storms are often hard to predict, their names are not.
The World Meteorological Organization maintains and updates six alphabetically-arranged lists for Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, and Central North Pacific tropical storms. The lists are used in rotation and recycled every six years — names used in 2017 will be used again in 2023.
The Hurricane Committee retired the names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate from its list of rotating names. They will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.
In 2018, the tropical cyclone names for the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic will be: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafeal, Sraa, Tony, Valerie and William.
"Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization," according to the National Hurricane Center.
"If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on Dec. 28, it would take the name from the previous season's list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season's list of names. In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet," according to the National Hurricane Center.
Learn more about the history of how hurricanes are named.
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