Categories of Hurricanes
Hurricanes are classified into five categories,
based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.
- Category One -- Winds 74-95 miles per hour
- Category Two -- Winds 96-110 miles per hour
- Category Three -- Winds 111-130 miles per hour
- Category Four -- Winds 131-155 miles per hour
- Category Five -- Winds greater than 155 miles per hour
In the U.S., the official hurricane season is from June 1 to November
30, but hurricanes can happen any time of the year. Hurricanes are named
by the National Weather Service. Some have been: Celia,
Belle, and Bob.
Hurricane Watch -- A hurricane is possible within 36 hours. Stay
tuned to the radio and television for more information. The Hurricane
Center is tracking the storm and trying to predict where it may come
Hurricane Warning -- A hurricane is expected within 24 hours.
You may be told to evacuate. You and your family should begin making
preparations to evacuate. If your area is having an evacuation, remember
to take your Disaster Supply Kit. Do not forget to make plans for your
pets if you must evacuate.
For hundreds of year, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after
the particular saint's day on which the hurricane occurred. An Australian
meteorologist began giving women's names to tropical storms before the end
of the 19th century. In 1953, the U.S. National Weather Service, which is
the federal agency that tracks hurricanes and issues warnings and watches,
began using female names for storms.
In 1979, both women and men's names were used. One name for each letter
of the alphabet is selected, except for Q, U and Z. For Atlantic Ocean
hurricanes, the names may be French, Spanish or English, since these are
the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean where the storm occur.
So who decides what names are used each year? The World Meteorological
Organization uses six lists in rotation. The same lists are reused every
six years. The only time a new name is added is if a hurricane is very
deadly or costly. Then the name is retired and a new name is chosen.
Whenever a hurricane has had a major impact, any country affected by
the storm can request that the name of the hurricane be “retired” by
agreement of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Retiring a name
actually means that it cannot be reused for at least 10 years, to
facilitate historic references, legal actions, insurance claim activities,
etc. and avoid public confusion with another storm of the same name. If
that happens, a like gender name is selected in English, Spanish or French
for Atlantic Storms.
There is an exception to the retirement rule, however. Before 1979, when
the first permanent six-year storm name list began, some storm names were
simply not used anymore. For example, in 1966, “Fern” was substituted
for “Frieda,” and no reason was cited.
Below is a list of Atlantic Ocean retired names, the years the hurricanes
occurred, and the areas they affected. There are, however, a great number
of destructive storms that occurred before hurricanes were first named in
1950, that are not included on this list.
Atlantic Storms Retired Into Hurricane History
Agnes (1972§*): Florida, Northeast U.S.
Alicia (1983*): North Texas
Allen (1980*): Antilles, Mexico, South Texas
Andrew (1992*): Bahamas, South Florida, Louisiana
Anita (1977): Mexico
Audrey (1957§*): Louisiana, North Texas
Betsy (1965§*): Bahamas, Southeast Florida, Southeast Louisiana
Beulah (1967*): Antilles, Mexico, South Texas
Bob (1991*): North Carolina & Northeast U.S.
Camille (1969§*): Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
Carla (1961§*): Texas
Carmen (1974): Mexico, Central Louisiana
Carol (1954§*): Northeast U.S.
Celia (1970*): South Texas
Cleo (1964*): Lesser Antilles, Haiti, Cuba, Southeast Florida
Connie (1955§): North Carolina
David (1979): Lesser Antilles, Hispañola,
Florida and Eastern U.S.
Diana (1990): Mexico
Diane (1955§*): Mid-Atlantic U.S. & Northeast U.S.
Donna (1960§*): Bahamas, Florida and Eastern U.S.
Dora (1964*): Northeast Florida
Elena (1985*): Mississippi, Alabama, Western Florida
Eloise (1975*): Antilles, Northwest
Flora (1963): Haiti, Cuba
Frederic (1979*): Alabama and
Gilbert (1988): Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Gloria (1985*): North Carolina, Northeast U.S.
Hattie (1961): Belize, Guatemala
Hazel (1954§*): Antilles, North and South Carolina
Hilda (1964§*): Louisiana
Hugo (1989*): Antilles, South Carolina
Ione (1955*): North Carolina
Inez (1966): Lesser Antilles, Hispanola, Cuba, Florida Keys, Mexico
Janet (1955): Lesser Antilles, Belize, Mexico
Joan (1988): Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua (Crossed into the
Pacific and became Miriam)
Klaus (1990): Martinique
Mitch (1998): Central America, Nicaragua, Honduras
§Within the list of top 37 deadliest
* Within the list of the top 31 costliest U.S. hurricanes (in 1990
(Measurements only available through 1992 for storms that affected the