On the wall here in my office, I show the names of this year's tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Inevitably, one of our visitors asks: Where do the names come from?

The naming of hurricanes in the Atlantic goes back to 1950, when storms were given names from the military alphabet - for example, Able, Baker, and Charlie. Since 1953, Atlantic storms have been named from lists made by the U.S. National Hurricane Center and now maintained by an international committee. Only women's names were used until 1979, when we started alternating men's and women's names.

Six different lists are used in rotation. So, for example, last year's list will be used again in 2005, but with one exception. The name "Floyd" has been retired, which can happen to any hurricane that's been particularly destructive or deadly. That retired name is then replaced by a new name. When last year's list is used again in 2005, the name replacing Floyd will be - and I'm not making this up - Franklin.

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