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The July 1 satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the center of Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. / NOAA

As the first Atlantic tropical storm of the season, named Arthur, appears, USA TODAY Network explains how storms get their monikers and why some are never used again.

How meteorologists name storms

A storm that is considered a tropical cyclone gets a name. By definition, this type of storm has sustained wind speeds of 39-73 mph and could turn into a hurricane, which has sustained wind speeds greater than 74 mph.

Initially, storms were named "arbitrarily," but starting in 1953, meteorologists began using names from a predetermined alphabetical list, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Names are proposed by members of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, according to WMO.

The first lists had only female names, and in 1978, male names were added and alternated with the female names, according to the National Hurricane Center.

There are six lists of names for Atlantic storms for use in six subsequent years, and every seventh year the names are reused, according to the National Hurricane Center.

For this year, Bertha, Cristobal and Dolly are next in line after Arthur.

"It is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes are named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence," according to WMO. "The tropical cyclone/hurricane names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region."

Why some names are retired

Sometimes a storm is so deadly that the name is taken off the list and replaced with another name "for reasons of sensitivity," the WMO states. The decision is made by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees.

For example, Andrew was taken off the list in 1992, Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Sandy in 2012.

Since 1954, 78 Atlantic tropical storm names have been retired, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Why some storm names are retired

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