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Most popular baby names shared by hurricanes

  • Most popular baby names shared by hurricanes

    In the 19th century, people in the Caribbean started naming hurricanes after the saint’s day on which they occurred—like Hurricane Santa Ana, which hit Puerto Rico on July 26, 1825. Australian meteorologist Clement Wragge began giving popular women’s names to storms a few decades later. By the mid-20th century, a more unified system had taken shape: American meteorologists identified storms from an alphabetically arranged list beginning with A for storms that occurred earlier in the year. This practice was particularly useful in World War II, when Army and Navy meteorologists had to plan troop movements around storms in the Pacific Ocean.

    The lists of hurricane names we use now were standardized by the National Hurricane Center in 1953 and are maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. There are six lists in total, so names rotate every seven years: Names used for storms in 2019 will be up for grabs again in 2025. At first, only female names were used; male names were added to the lists in 1979. If a particular storm is considered so deadly or costly that it would be disrespectful for the name to be reused, the World Meteorological Organization naming committee retires it. Today, many hurricane names are among the most popular baby names in the United States.

    To find out which popular baby names are shared by hurricanes, Stacker ranked 50 baby names that have been used for at least five hurricanes and/or tropical storms since 1950. The names are ranked here by how many storms have shared each name, with data and further information on name meanings and history from the Behind the Name hurricane namesakes list. Ties are broken by the names’ popularity in 2018 (number of babies born), with data from the U.S. Social Security Administration. We've also included data on the biggest storm that shares each name, compiled from a variety of weather data sources including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The hurricane damages listed are all inflation-adjusted to 2019 dollars.

    Read on to learn about hurricane history through the names that tie these storms together.

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  • #50. Gustav (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #3,427 (32 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 3 hurricanes, 2 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Gustav (2008; cost $7.3 billion in damages)

    Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 29, 2008, and made landfall on the coast of Louisiana two days later. The storm hit Louisiana, southern Alabama, and the Florida panhandle with intense rain and wind. It caused over 100 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Gustav was retired as a hurricane name after this storm.

  • #49. Becky (girls)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #3,900 (37 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 2 hurricanes, 3 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Tropical Storm Becky (1970; cost $3 million in damages)

    Becky is a diminutive version of Rebecca, which comes from a Hebrew name meaning “join, tie, snare.” 1970’s Tropical Storm Becky snared cars and homes throughout the Florida panhandle; the St. Petersburg Times reported knee-deep water around the county courthouse.

  • #48. Charley (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,621 (100 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 4 hurricanes, 1 tropical storm
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Charley (2004; cost $22.2 billion in damages)

    The name Charley was retired as a hurricane title after 2004, when Hurricane Charley tore through Florida’s west coast with winds of 145 miles per hour. The New York Times called this hurricane “the worst on the west coast of Florida in at least a century;” nearly 2 million people were evacuated, and over 300,000 buildings were damaged.

  • #47. Humberto (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,467 (117 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 5 hurricanes
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Humberto (2007; cost $62 million in damages)

    Three Texas counties were declared as disaster areas after Hurricane Humberto knocked out buildings and power lines in September 2007, while rains also impacted Louisiana, Georgia, and other East Coast states. Humberto is still in use as a hurricane name, and in fact was recently given to a Category 3 storm this past fall—that Hurricane Humberto hit Bermuda, leaving over 27,000 people out of power.

  • #46. Henri (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,459 (118 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 1 hurricane, 4 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Tropical Storm Henri (2003; cost $27 million in damages)

    In September 2003, the west coast of Florida was already saturated from a summer of heavy rain when Tropical Storm Henri hit. The storm caused $15 million in flooding damage in Florida alone and proceeded up the coast as far as Delaware.

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  • #45. Karl (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,283 (142 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 4 hurricanes, 1 tropical storm
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Karl (2010; cost $4.6 billion in damages)

    Karl is the German and Scandanavian form of the name Charles, which may be derived from the Germanic root “hari” meaning army or warrior, and was popularized by Charlemagne and other Holy Roman Emperors. It’s a fitting name for storms the like of 2010’s Hurricane Karl, which knocked out electricity for almost half a million people in Mexico and caused widespread evacuations.

  • #44. Brenda (girls)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #1,011 (255 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 2 hurricanes, 3 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Brenda (1973; damages data not available)

    Hurricane Brenda (1973) was the first hurricane on record to hit the southeast coast of Campeche Bay, along Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The storm destroyed thousands of homes in Tabasco and Carmen and heightened damage already done by a summer of heavy rains.

  • #43. Gordon (boys)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #823 (269 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 4 hurricanes, 1 tropical storm
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Gordon (1994; cost $1.0 billion in damages)

    Although it never fully made landfall as a hurricane, Hurricane Gordon (1994) caused flooding and mudslides leading to over 500 deaths in Haiti, as well as loss of life in Florida; one man drowned off of Fort Lauderdale Beach while rescuing his young son from a rip current. The hurricane name is still in use, however, and was most recently given to a tropical storm that hit Florida in 2018.

  • #42. Erika (girls)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #896 (298 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 2 hurricanes, 3 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Tropical Storm Erika (2015; cost $511.4 million in damages)

    The name Erika was retired for hurricanes after 2015, when Tropical Storm Erika hit the Antilles, the Bahamas, and Florida. The storm caused flooding and brought down trees and powerlines, bringing devastating losses even though it was the first major rain event after a summer of drought for the northern Caribbean.

  • #41. Alma (girls)

    - Name popularity rank in 2018: #645 (455 babies born)
    - Name shared by: 3 hurricanes, 2 tropical storms
    - Biggest storm with this name: Hurricane Alma (1966; cost $1.7 billion in damages)

    Hurricane Alma was the first tropical cyclone of the 1966 season by a long shot—it surfaced over Nicaragua and Honduras on June 4, and became the earliest hurricane to make landfall since a late-May–early-June storm in 1825. The storm hit Florida’s agriculture hard, doing damage to the state’s crops of mango, grapefruit, and tobacco; total damages cost over $1 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.

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