Tropical Storm Flossie: What Kind Of Name Is That, And How Are Storm Names Chosen?

As Tropical Storm Flossie is poised to hit Hawaii, you may be asking yourself, “What kind of name is Flossie?”

Flossie is actually a nickname for the female name Florence. How the name went from nickname to the identification of the latest tropical storm is a short story.

Flossie is the sixth name in 2013 on the National Hurricane Center’s list of potential storm names that originate in the eastern north Pacific Ocean. There are six sets of lists that are recycled every six years, meaning it’s possible for another Tropical Storm Flossie to be churning in the eastern north Pacific in 2019.

There are separate tropical storm names for the Atlantic Ocean and the central north Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic also has six sets of lists rotated every six years while the central north Pacific has four sets recycled every four years.

But there are exceptions to the recycle rule. For instance, they’re won’t be another Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy.

“The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity,” the National Hurricane Center explains in its guide to tropical storm names. “If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO [World Meterorological Organization] committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Several names have been retired since the lists were created.”

In the National Weather Service’s latest update on Tropical Storm Flossie, the cyclone is here, or about 1,040 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii. The NWS has not issued any warnings or watches for coastal areas due to Flossie, but added that “interests in the Hawaiian islands should monitor Flossie through the weekend.”

Flossie is currently whipping at 65 mph, with tropical storm force winds extending up to 160 miles from the center of the tropical storm.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is expected to give out the next update on Flossie at 4 p.m. EDT, or 11 a.m. HST.

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