Nigel, Vernon, Rhonda: UK, Ireland unveil new list of storm names

How are hurricanes named?
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Story highlights

  • UK and Irish weather authorities unveil list of storm names
  • Names were submitted by members of the public
  • Met Office says that naming storms helps streamline information on their progress

London (CNN)Weather forecasters in the UK and Ireland could soon be urging people to start "making plans for Nigel," as the lyrics of the 1979 XTC single go, after the national weather services there announced new naming conventions for storms.

The UK's Met Office weather service and its Irish equivalent, Met Eireann, appealed to the public last month to suggest names for a pilot project to name powerful storms affecting the countries.
    The services said in a statement that they hoped that naming storms would help streamline communications about advancing storm systems -- increasing the public's awareness of their progress and their preparedness for when they struck.
    Thousands of suggestions were received via email, Facebook and Twitter, the UK Met Office said, and on Tuesday, the results were revealed.
    Beginning with Abigail, the list alternates between female and male names, with a name assigned to each letter of the alphabet, excluding Q, U, X, Y and Z, to keep in line with conventions used in the U.S.
    The complete list is: Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon and Wendy.
    The Met Office said in a statement that storms would be named when they had potential to cause "medium or high" wind impacts in the UK or Ireland. Storms that have begun as named hurricanes in the Atlantic would not be assigned new names, but would continue to be referred to by the name allocated by the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Met Eireann said.
    The Met Office said it had seen the benefits of naming storms when the "St. Jude's Day storm" struck in October 2013, killing four people. Widespread information about the approaching storm, including on social media, where hashtagging the storm's advance made it easy to monitor, had helped planners, emergency responders and the public mitigate its impact, it said in a statement.
    Naming storms would also reduce confusion at times when two severe weather events were being tracked.
    Tropical storms, cyclones and hurricanes are subject to different naming conventions around the world. Severe weather events in the North Atlantic are named according to a protocol established by the World Meteorological Organization, in which six lists of alternating male and female names are used on an annual rotation, according to the U.S.'s National Hurricane Center.
    Storm names are retired if they are attached to particularly deadly or costly weather events, such as Sandy in 2012 or Irene in 2011.
    The U.S. used women's names only to label storms between 1953 and 1978, according to the National Hurricane Center.