Hurricane Names: Why Was Hurricane Sandy Chosen This Time Around?

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HURRICANE
How are hurricane names chosen? Turns out there's already a predetermined list. | Shutterstock

We know what you're probably thinking: They could've chosen any name for a hurricane that has so far claimed 69 lives in the Caribbean, 33 in the U.S. and one in Canada. But why Sandy?

As it turns out, Sandy was just meant to be — literally. Hurricane names are chosen from a giant list selected by the World Meteorological Organization, according to NASA. The Atlantic coast, for example, is assigned six lists of names and one list is used every year. On the sixth year, the first list begins again, so any names chosen in 2012 can be used again in 2018.

Each list of names is also organized in alphabetical order. The first hurricane of the season usually starts with the letter A and so on. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are never used — sorry Hurricane Uma and Zach. But, when destructive hurricanes hit like Katrina did in 2005, these names are never used again and are dubbed "retired," according to LiveScience.com. The last hurricane name to be retired was 2011's Irene, which claimed over 50 lives in North America and in the Caribbean.

But with 61 days left in 2012, we may actually be running out of hurricane names for the rest of the year, according to The Atlantic. This year, we've already used 18 out of 21 potential names (remember hurricane Isaac in August?) for cyclones and storms. On average, 10 names are used each year and if we do have more storms in November or December, we may have to move from human names to non-human names like Gamma, Alpha or Beta, according to The Atlantic.

Has your name ever been used for a hurricane? Let us know in the comments below:

LOOK: The full list of names for 2012:

Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sandy
Tony
Valerie
William

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