|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
Message ID Number: 874879323.Es
Subject: Hurricane Names
A storm only gets a name when it attains a sustained wind speed of 35 knots (about 40 mph). That is, when it evolves from a tropical depression to a tropical storm.
Generally, only if a storm reaches hurricane level (above 64 knot or 74 mph sustained wind speeds) does it have a potential for its name to be retired. This is because the names are retired for particularly notorious storms. To gain notoriety, a storm generally needs to be highly destructive, and to do that, it needs to be a hurricane.
As a result there will, for example, never be another Hurricane Gilbert (1988), Hugo (1989), or Andrew (1992), as these names were retired due to the great damage caused by those storms.
As to when this occurs, that's a government thing. And so, while I'm sure there is a policy in place, and there are one or more august committees that sit in judgement of storms, who knows how long that process might take?Clay Harris Dept. of Geog/Geology Middle TN State University