Hurricane Guide: 2008 Season Gets Busy

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

ON THIS PAGE Saffir-Simpson Scale | Deadliest | Costliest Vulnerable States | Busiest Months | 2008 Names



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Tropical Storm Names

Military weather forecasters began giving women's names to significant storms during WWII, then in 1950 the World Meteorological Organization agreed to an alphabetical naming system, using the military's radio code. The first named Atlantic hurricane was Able in 1950.

Officials soon realized the naming convention would cause problems in the history books if more than one powerful Hurricane Able made landfall. So, in 1953 the organization adopted a rotating series of women's names, planning to retire names of significant storms.

Feminists urged the WMO to add men's names, which was done in 1979. The boy-girl-boy-girl naming convention evolved to include French and Spanish names in the Atlantic system, reflecting the languages of the nations affected by Carribean hurricanes.

Twenty-one names are reserved each year (the letters q, u, x, y and z are not used), and the names are recycled every six years, minus those retired. When a name is retired, the World Meteorological Organization chooses a new name to replace it.

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SOURCE: National Hurricane Center Research by Michael Schirber and Robert Roy Britt

Image Galleries

From above ...

... and on the ground

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Cat. Winds (mph) Damage Examples
174-95Damage to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, trees, poorly constructed signsAllison, 1995; Danny, 1997
296-110Breakage of roofs, doors, windows; small trees blown down; flooding 2-4 hrs before hurricaneBonnie, 1998; Georges, 1998
3111-130Mobile homes destroyed; large trees blown down; flooding 3-5 hrs before hurricaneRoxanne, 1995; Fran, 1996
4131-155Curtainwall failures in small residences; 10 ft flooding; evacuation as far inland as 6 milesLuis, Felix, and Opal, 1995
5155+Complete roof failure; escape routes cut by 15 ft flooding; evacuation as far inland as 10 milesMitch and Gilbert, 1998

  Summary by Category: Hurricanes that Hit U.S. Coast (Texas to Main) from 1900-2004

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Category Number All (1-5) Major (3-5)
1 2 3 4 5

  Deadliest Atlantic-basin Hurricanes (Not updated to include Katrina in 2005)

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Rank Areas Worst Hit Month/Year Deaths
1Martinique; St. Eustatius; Barbados; offshoreOct 178020,000-22,000
2Galveston, TXSep 19008,000-12,000
3Honduras (FIFI)Sep 19743,000-10,000
4Dominican RepublicSep 19302,000-8,000
5Haiti; Cuba (FLORA)Oct 19637,186-8,000
6Pointe-a-Pitre Bay, GuadoloupeSep 17766,000+
7Newfoundland BanksSep 17754,000
8Puerto Rico; CarolinasAug 18993,064+
9Florida; Guadeloupe; Puerto Rico; Turks Islands; MartiniqueSep 19283,375-4,075
10Cuba; Cayman Islands; JamaicaNov 19322,500+

  Costliest U.S. Hurricanes (adjusted for inflation, in year-2000 dollars) (Not updated to include Katrina in 2005)

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Rank Hurricane Year Cat. Damage
1Andrew (SE FL, SE LA)1992534,954,825,000
2Hugo (SC)198949,739,820,675
3Agnes (FL, NE U.S.)197218,602,500,000
4Betsy (SE FL, SE LA)196538,516,866,023
5Camille (MS, SE LA, VA)196956,992,441,549
6Diane (NE U.S.)195515,540,676,187
7Frederic (AL, MS)197934,965,327,332
8Floyd (Mid Atlantic & NE U.S.)199924,666,817,360
9Unnamed (New England)193834,748,580,000
10Georges (USVI, PR)199833,888,000,000

  Direct Hits, 1900-2004

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Florida 64
Texas 38
North Carolina 29
Louisiana 27
South Carolina 16
Alabama 12
Mississippi 9
New York 9
Connecticut 8
Georgia 5
Maine 5
Rhode Island5
Virginia 5
New Hampshire2
Maryland 1
New Jersey 1
Delaware 0

  Major Hurricanes (Cat. 3-5) to Hit U.S. Coast (Texas to Main) from 1900-2004

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Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Total

  2008 Names

Arthur Bertha Cristobal Dolly Edouard Fay Gustav Hanna Ike Josephine Kyle Laura Marco Nana Omar Paloma Rene Sally Teddy Vicky Wilfred

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