Hurricane Lane: How Do Hawai‘i Hurricanes Get Their Names?

Will your child ever have a hurricane named after them? Here are the lists you can check.

Photo: NOAA

A satellite captured this image of Hurricane Lane as a category 5 storm on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Hurricane Lane organized in the Eastern Pacific, so it received one of the names from the Eastern Pacific list for 2018, which has 26 names, one for each letter of the alphabet. That list changes every annually. Next year, it would be Hurricane Lorena, in 2020, we would have been watching as Lowell barreled toward us.

If the system had formed in the Central Pacific region—defined as between 140W, the equator, and the dateline—all the newscasts would be talking about Hurricane Walaka, pronounced wah-LAH-kah, as dutifully noted on the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website.  Unlike the eastern storms, names for the Central Pacific do not change year to year. When meteorologists hit the bottom of one list, they just start at the top of the next. 

Want to learn more about hurricanes and how to prepare? See 8 online hurricane games we found for kids. has a list of cancellations caused by Hurricane Lane.

As for the origins of those names, we didn’t recognize Walaka as a Hawaiian word. A search on online Hawaiian dictionary Nā Puke Wehewehe ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i turned up nothing. In fact, when we typed in all 48 local-sounding names, about a third of them appeared not to be Hawaiian at all. What gives?

All hurricane names are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization. The words are selected by regional committees from proposals from members in North and Central America and Caribbean. The organization says the names are just supposed to be familiar to people affected in the region so they can remember them. We asked the WMO about the origins of the names and will let you know when we receive an answer.

Here is the full list of Central Pacific names, with pronunciation guides included, just in case you needed it.

List 1

  • Akoni (ah – KOH – nee)
  • Ema (EH – mah)
  • Hone (HOH-neh)
  • Iona (ee-OH-nah)
  • Keli (KEH-lee)
  • Lala (LAH-lah)
  • Moke (MOH-keh)
  • Nolo (NOH-loh)
  • Olana (oh-LAH-nah)
  • Pena (PEH-nah)
  • Ulana (oo-LAH-nah)
  • Wale (WAH-leh)

List 2

  • Aka (AH – kah)
  • Ekeka (eh – KEH – kak)
  • Hene (HEH-neh)
  • Iolana (ee-OH-lah-nah)
  • Keoni (keh-ON-nee)
  • Lino (LEE-noh)
  • Mele (MEH-leh)
  • Nona (NOH-nah)
  • Oliwa (oh-LEE-vah)
  • Pama (PAH-mah)
  • Upana (oo-PAH-nah)
  • Wene (WEH-neh)

List 3

  • Alika (ah – LEE – kah)
  • Ele (EH-leh)
  • Huko (HOO-koh)
  • Iopa (ee-OH-pah)
  • Kika (KEE-kah)
  • Lana (LAH-nah)
  • Maka (MAH-kah)
  • Neki (NEH-kee)
  • Omeka (oh-MEH-ka)
  • Pewa (PEH-vah)
  • Unala (oo-NAH-lah)
  • Wali (WAH-lee)

List 4

  • Ana (AH – nah)
  • Ela (EH-lah)
  • Halola (hah-LOH-lah)
  • Iune (ee-OO-neh)
  • Kilo (KEE-lo)
  • Loke (LOH-keh)
  • Malia (mah-LEE-ah)
  • Niala (nee-AH-la)
  • Oho (OH-hoh)
  • Pali (PAH-lee) (Jan. 2016)
  • Ulika (oo-LEE-kah) (Sept. 2016)
  • Walaka (wah-LAH-kah)

Side note about the Western North Pacific naming conventions. Thirteen countries from Asia, the Pacific as well as the U.S. each suggested 10 names for that list, resulting in a range of titles from Vincente (U.S.) to Nanmadol (Micronesia).