NOAA Magazine || NOAA Home Page

SECOND BUSIEST HURRICANE SEASON ON RECORD NEARS END OF NAME LIST

NOAA image of NOAA five-day tracking map for Hurricane Vince as of 5 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9, 2005.Oct. 9, 2005 As NOAA began tracking Tropical Storm Vince over the far eastern Atlantic on Sunday, this year's hurricane season became the second busiest on record with 20 named storms—a rank formerly held by the hurricane seasons of 1887 (unnamed storms) and 1995 (Allison to Tanya), each with 19 storms. Vince also is the first storm in the Atlantic Basin to begin with the letter “V” since storms began acquiring names in 1953. Vince was upgraded to a hurricane Sunday afternoon making it the 11th hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA five-day tracking map for Hurricane Vince as of 5 p.m. EDT on Oct. 9, 2005. Please credit “NOAA.”)

While the 2005 season has the most named storms, the greatest number of storms in a single season was 21 in 1933—20 years before names were assigned. Hurricane statistics date back to 1851.

Storms were first named after women from 1953 until 1979, at which point men's and women's names were alternated. Absent from the list are the relatively few names that begin with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z. Names reappear on lists on six-year cycles, unless "retired" for causing a significant loss of life or property, such as Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne all from the 2004 season. The list of names is maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization, of which NOAA is an active member.

Names are bestowed upon tropical cyclones when reaching tropical storm status (with top sustained winds of at least 39 mph) and are maintained when the tropical storm is upgraded to a hurricane (with top sustained winds of 74 mph or higher).

Wilma is the next and final name on the 2005 list. Any tropical storms and hurricanes that form after Wilma will be named using the Greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and so forth.

"There is the potential for additional tropical storms and hurricanes to form this season, but it's too early to know exactly where they will develop or if they will affect land," said Scott Kiser, Tropical Cyclone Program Manager for the NOAA National Weather Service.

Of the 20 named storms that have formed since the June 1st start of the 2005 hurricane season, 11 have become hurricanes, including five major hurricanes. This is far above the average of 10 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes for a hurricane season and this heightened activity is in line with earlier NOAA projections.

Through the end of the season on November 30, NOAA predicts a season total of 18 to 21 named storms in which nine to 11 would become hurricanes, including five to seven major hurricanes of Category 3 intensity or greater.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Hurricane Center

2005 Atlantic Hurricanes Names

NOAA National Hurricane Center Archives (past seasons)

Media Contact:
Chris Vaccaro, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 134