How Hurricane Ana Got Its Name

Ever wonder how a storm gets its name?


Did you know that Ana (pronounced "ah-nah") is actually a Hawaiian storm name? But it comes after tropical storms Julio and Iselle, which are clearly not Hawaiian and come later in the alphabet.

That got us wondering how tropical storms get their names.

According to the National Weather Service, tropical storms have been named from set lists since 1953. These lists are currently maintained and updated by the World Meteorological Organization. Each U.S. region has its own set of lists, and there are three U.S. regions: the Atlantic, the Eastern North Pacific and the Central North Pacific. Every year, storms are named from the yearly list that corresponds with the region in which they originate. The list changes each year, and storms are named in alphabetical order from the appropriate list.

Here's where it gets a little complicated. Central North Pacific Names are all Hawaiian, and there are 4 lists in our region. Because Ana was the first tropical storm born in the Central North Pacific (near us) this year, she received the first name on list 4 (the list for 2014). If another storm originates in our region this year, it will be named Ela. The storm after that will be named Halola, and so on.

Iselle and Julio started in the Eastern North Pacific, so they got their names from a different list. Iselle was 9th on the list, so the two storms must have been the 9th and 10th storms to start in the Eastern North Pacific this year. We never heard about storms 1 through 8, because they never threatened the islands.

The most famous hurricanes with Hawaiian names were Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992, which hit the islands with devastating effects. Those names have since been retired.

Ana means "to measure" or "survey" in Hawaiian. Āna means "his" or "hers." And finally, 'Ana means "pumice." Which meaning did the World Meteorological Organization intend? We don't know.

We do know that you can't name a topical cyclone after yourself, though.


See the full list of tropical storm names, here.