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VERIFY: If a hurricane or tropical storm crosses regions, does it get a new name?

Hurricane season is here. We're verifying a claim about how storms are named.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — THE QUESTION

If a hurricane or tropical storm crosses regions, does it get a new name?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, as long as a hurricane or tropical storm doesn’t fall apart before it crosses regions, it does not get a new name.

WHAT WE FOUND

The WMO classifies 10 different regions. They are:

  • The Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic Names
  • Eastern North Pacific Names
  • Central North Pacific Names
  • Western North Pacific and the South China Sea Names
  • Australian Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre's (TCWC) Area of Responsibility
  • Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre Nadi's Area of Responsibility
  • Port Moresby Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre's Area of Responsibility
  • Jakarta Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre's Area of Responsibility
  • Northern Indian Ocean Names - the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal
  • Southwest Indian Ocean Names

The one we focus on here in Hampton Roads is the region that makes up the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic.

So what happens if a hurricane or tropical storm crosses a region?

"As of about 20 years ago, it now keeps its name. Back in 2001, the WMO said no, if a storm crosses from one basin to another, it’s going to keep its name," said Mulcahy.

We have two examples of that in the last 12 years. The most recent was in 2016.

Credit: WCNC

"Back in 2016, Otto was the first storm to make the full crossover since 1996, said Mulcahy.

However, if a storm starts in one region, falls apart, and then picks back up steam in another region, that’s where things are different.

"So it’s gonna get a new name if it's just remnants of a system. We just saw that with Agatha. Once it’s no longer a tropical depression, it just goes to the remnants of whatever that name is. Once that remnant crosses over to a new basin, then it’s going to take over into that naming system," said Mulcahy, adding "the remnants of storms happen more than you think. That’s the best chance of going from the Pacific over the Atlantic. For instance, we had Grace that changed over to Marty in 2021 and Nana to Julio in 2020."

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