Names are a storm in a Theta cup

With hurricane season on the way, my thoughts have turned to tropical cyclones (which is the correct terminology). Specifically, I'm thinking of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones and their appellations.

So how do they come up with the official hurricane names? As it turns out, each new storm system gets named alphabetically in boy/girl alteration.

My mother, who visits Florida, claimed over the phone that the alphabet spills over from one year to the next, so if the last storm in December is Roger the next one in January is Susan.  It seemed plausible but unfortunately, after a little research I discovered that, though she may have weathered Wilma, mother is not always correct.

The lettering system begins at A in January and follows the alphabet throughout the year. The names are chosen years in advance. Sometimes the list is exhausted (as in 2005 when there were 28 storms including Katrina, Wilma, and Rita) and the emergency Greek letters are used (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta).

If a storm becomes inflated by infamy, it's name is officially retired. You can check here to see if your name is already a legendary hurricane (mine is) or try here to find out if you're in the running for devastation in the next five years.

Thankfully, we can watch them all play out safely from our little North Atlantic island; unless of course we witness a return of The Night of the Big Wind from 1839. And that poor chap didn't even get a name.

Pensions were famously granted to those who could remember the Big Wind when the British instituted old age pensions in Ireland in 1909. So may I humbly nominate 'Johnny' as in 'Johnny Cash.'

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