SEATTLE - American forecasters began naming hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean in 1953 (grabbing the idea from the U.S. military) after realizing calling a storm "Betsy" was easier in communicating than "that big storm at 32.3 degrees North and 74 degrees West".
The rest of the world eventually caught on, and naming rights now go by the World Meteorological Organization, which uses different sets of names depending on the part of the world the storm is in. Around the U.S., only women's names were used until 1979, when it was decided that there should be boy hurricanes too.
There's 6 different name lists that alternate each year. And if a hurricane does significant damage, its name is retired and replaced with another. As to who decides what name makes the list -- that is still a mystery.
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