Here are the 2021 hurricane names for both the Atlantic and the Eastern North-Pacific. Is your name or the name of a loved one listed this year? Find out. Plus, learn how hurricanes are named and see the interesting history behind naming storms.
Who Names Hurricanes?
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 each year. The lists of hurricane names for each season are chosen by the World Meteorological Organization (not The Old Farmer’s Almanac). There are six lists of names for Atlantic and Pacific storms, which are cycled through every six years.
The lists have been maintained since 1953 (originally by the National Hurricane Center). For the 2021 hurricane season, the list of names from 2015 is being used again, so don’t be surprised if some sound familiar. Those that are not retired from the list this year will be used again in the 2027 season.
Note: The names of especially destructive hurricanes are usually retired and not used again. See a list of retired tropical storm and hurricane names here.
Hurricane Names for the 2021 Hurricane Season
The lists below include storms in both the Atlantic Basin (Gulf and East Coast hurricanes) and Eastern North-Pacific (Pacific Island and West Coast hurricanes).
Note: Tropical storms are given names as soon as they display a rotating circulation pattern and wind speeds of 39 miles per hour (63 kilometers per hour). A tropical storm develops into a hurricane when wind speeds reach 74 mph (119 kph).
The traditional names listed above are in alphabetical order as the storms occur. In other words, the first storm of the season will be given the first name on the list (starting with the letter A), the next will be given the name starting with B, and so on. An average year, based on 1981 to 2010 data, will result in 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Atlantic Tropical (and Subtropical) Storm Names for 2021
Eastern North-Pacific Tropical (and Subtropical) Storm Names for 2021
What Happens If We Run Out of Names?
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record—we ran through the entire alphabetical list of names (and then some)! This happens very rarely (it has only happened once before, in 2005), but seems likely to become more common. What happens when it does?
If more storms occur in one season than there are names on the list, the newest storms have traditionally been named after the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.). However, this will no longer be the case starting in 2021. Instead of the Greek alphabet, a list of supplemental names will be used. Like names from the regular annual lists, supplemental names can be retired and replaced if the storms are deemed to be significantly impactful.
The WMO decided to discontinue use of the Greek alphabet for several reasons, including:
- Using the Greek names was such a rare occurrence that it distracted from more important news about the hurricanes themselves.
- When translated into different languages of the region, the Greek names led to confusion and inconsistencies.
- The names Eta and Iota were retired after the 2020 season and there had not been a plan for replacing retired Greek names.
So, any extra storms will now be named from the supplemental names lists shown below.
Atlantic Storm Names
Eastern North-Pacific Storm Names
The History of Naming Hurricanes
- Native Americans called these destructive storms hurakons, after “a great spirit who commanded the east wind.” Spanish explorers adopted the word and then began giving hurricanes the names of patron saints on whose feast days the storms occurred. Later, hurricanes were identified by their longitude and latitude.
- In 1950, a formal practice for storm naming was developed by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, storms were named according to a phonetic alphabet (e.g., Able, Baker, Charlie) and the names used were the same for each hurricane season; in other words, the first hurricane of a season was always named “Able,” the second “Baker,” and so on.
- In 1953, to avoid the repetitive use of names, the system was revised so that storms would be given female names. This mimicked the habits of old naval meteorologists, who named the storms after their wife or girlfriend, much the way ships at sea were named after women. A weatherman in Australia is credited with being the first person to give a tropical storm a female name.
- In 1979, the system was revised again to include both female and male names.
Today, naming hurricanes is the responsibility of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which revises the lists each year. However, the WMO doesn’t only name hurricanes that occur off the shores of North America; they maintain lists for all areas affected by tropical cyclones. See hurricane names for other regions here.
Learn More About Hurricanes
For more information on hurricanes, see:
- How to Measure a Hurricane: The Saffir-Simpson Scale
- Current Hurricane Season Forecast & Updates
- How to Survive a Hurricane: Safety Tips
Also check out our series on some of the worst hurricanes to ever hit the US: The Worst Hurricanes in US History (Part I)