(NOTE: This story was originally published in June 2017 and revised in September 2019.)
When a tropical storm develops in the Atlantic Ocean, it will get one of these 126 names depending on the year and the order it forms.
During the height of hurricane season, it's fairly common have more than one storm churning at a time. Sometimes there are several active at once. Having a short, memorable way to distinguish the systems makes it easier to communicate the forecast.
How the naming list works:
The very first naming schemes in the late 1940s and early 1950s used a military phonetic alphabet for labeling storms. From 1953 to 1978, tropical systems in the Atlantic were only given female names chosen by U.S. forecasters. By the late 1960s, women's organizations spoke out against having exclusively female names attached to disasters, but it took about a decade for the policy to change.
In 1979, the National Hurricane Center started naming Atlantic storms with the current system of six rotating lists containing 21 alternating male and female names. There are separate lists and names for hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific, and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.
The Atlantic list includes English, Spanish and French names to reflect the languages that are most common across North America, Central America and the Caribbean islands. They are not named for individuals.
There aren't any names assigned for the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z. Names starting with those letters are scarce, and they usually aren't necessary. The average Atlantic season has 12 named tropical storms, so many of the names toward the end of these lists have only been used once or twice in the last four decades. Most of the names starting with V and W haven't been needed at all.
It's quite rare to have a hurricane season with more than 21 storms. In that case, storms are named after letters of the Greek alphabet. The first and only time that has happened was the extremely active 2005 season, when all 21 names were exhausted and Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta were called into use.
We'll never see another Hurricane Katrina, Andrew, Isabel or Harvey again, because names associated with high-impact storms are retired by a committee of the World Meteorological Organization during an annual spring meeting.
Matthew and Otto were stricken because of the damage those hurricanes caused in the 2016 season, and will be replaced with Martin and Owen in 2022.
After the devastating 2017 season, Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate were discarded in favor of Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.
The worst storms of 2018, Florence and Michael, will never appear again either. In 2024, we'll see Francine and Milton on the list instead.
Scroll down to see if your name is on the list, and when it might come up again.
(Storm descriptions as of Sept. 9, 2019)
Andrea - subtropical storm in May
Barry - hurricane that struck Louisiana in July
Chantal - tropical storm in August
Dorian - formed in August, struck the Bahamas, the Southeast U.S. and eastern Canada in September
Erin - tropical storm in August
Fernand - tropical storm in September
Gabrielle - tropical storm in September
Imelda (replaces Ingrid from 2013)
Elisa (replaces Erika from 2015)
Julian (replaces Joaquin from 2015)
Martin (replaces Matthew from 2016)
Owen (replaces Otto from 2016)
Harold (replaces Harvey from 2017)
Idalia (replaces Irma from 2017)
Margot (replaces Maria from 2017)
Nigel (replaces Nate from 2017)
Francine (replaces Florence from 2018)
Milton (replaces Michael from 2018)
(in alphabetical order with the year they occurred)
Edna (1954, but removed after another use in 1968)