Who Picks Hurricane Names? WATCH: What Is The Difference Between "Weather" vs. "Climate"? Previous Next Nobody can guess how serious the next hurricane will be, but you can find out what it will be named. An important thing to note is that weather events aren’t eligible for a name until they transform from a tropical depression into a tropical storm. When tropical storms reach a certain velocity, they become cyclones, which North Americans call hurricanes. How are hurricanes named? Then, the name of a hurricane will depend on where it originates. The world is roughly divided into six major basins where storm activity occurs. Each basin has an organization that comes up with lists of names a few years in advance. The basins don’t all follow the same rules for coming up with the names. In one basin, they don’t always use human names. But according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, , the namers for the Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific basins share a common system. Male and female names alternate in alphabetical order, and the gender that the list starts with alternates every year. The lists are recycled every six years. What types of names are used? Letters that rarely begin names, like Q and X, are excluded from consideration, and hurricane names can be retired from the list if they’ve caused a certain level of destruction. Katrina, for example, was retired after the 2005 storm devastated the area in and around New Orleans, La. If there are more than 21 storms in one season and the alphabetical names are used up, additional storms get their names from the Greek alphabet. They would be called “Alpha,” “Beta,” and so on. Find out the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.