Maria, the Hurricane

We have a new hurricane, Maria, headed for the mid-Atlantic (Tropical Storm Lee has already come and gone).

The next name up for grabs is Nate (followed by Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma). No Q, U, Y, X, or Z — so no hurricane Queequeg. Or Xavier. Or Yves or Zeus, either. The only explanation I can find is that the naming authority, the World Meteorological Organization, feels there’s not a sufficient stock of names for those letters to designate all the storms that need to be accounted for. (Side note: As with Camille and Andrew and other monster storms, Katrina will be withdrawn from the list of potential names.)

How far through the list will we get? On August 2, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revised its hurricane season outlook. In May, the agency predicted 12 to 15 tropical storms for the season, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, and three to five becoming major hurricanes. The August update increased the estimate to 18 to 21 tropical storms, nine to 11 hurricanes, and five to seven major hurricanes.

What happens if we get through storm 21 (Wilma) and another one appears? An investigation is under way.

(If you must know more, see the WMO’s seven-page fact sheet — a PDF file — on tropical cyclone names.)

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2 Replies to “Maria, the Hurricane”

  1. Y’know, I just read the latest hurricane list, and noticed the lack of Q names… so I did a search on Google to see if there had ever been a “Hurricane Queequeg”. And this was the only result I found. So… congrats! I guess.

  2. Thanks — I never thought I’d get to take a bow for that. I don’t get why there’s no Q — not like there’s a lack of Q names (in English, anyway); though come to think of it, most of them are guy’s names, and in the modern storm-naming era they want to alternate between male and female (so there’s the next inquiry: what women’s names begin with Q? Quinella?).

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