Imagine a storm is heading towards the Gulf of Mexico; the news announcer warns that "Storm 20ºN, 75ºW" is on its way.
To your average Cartographer, this would give you a pretty clear indication of where a storm is based on that longitude and latitude, but we know that storms move and that human error is a real thing.
If the storm had moved rapidly or the reporter told people that it was now "storm 25ºN, 70ºW" then suddenly the storm would be recorded hundreds, even thousands, of miles away.
Tracking the movement of potentially life-threatening storms is important when it comes to people being able to prepare, so using longitude and latitude to locate a moving force of nature would be somewhat flawed.
Naming a storm means that its force and characteristics can be categorised despite its (often rapid) movements.
So now we know why we name storms, let's take a look at where those names come from.
Storm Frank as seen on earth.nullschool.net
A history of naming
For hundreds of years storms in the West Indies were named after the Saint's day that they occurred on. In the late 1800s an Australian meteorologist named Clement Wragge began giving storms female names - it's said that he'd also throw in names of any political figures with whom he disagreed!
During World War II this practice became widespread in weather map discussions among forecasters, especially Army and Navy meteorologists who plotted the movements of storms over the wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean.
The Army and Navy named storms using the phonetic alphabet naming convention (Able, Baker, Charlie) but when a new international phonetic alphabet was introduced, the United States began using female names for storms.
The practice of using only female names ended in 1978 when male names were added to the roster, therefore diversifying the names of the storms that were tracked and reported.
Storm Draco, a winter storm that wreaked havoc across North America's Midwestern and Eastern regions in December 2012
How storms are named
Names are predetermined for 6 years and then repeated, apart from in cases where a particular storm has been so devastating to an area that re-using the name may be inappropriate for sensitivity reasons.
Names are given alphabetically in a male/female/male/female pattern and then switching each year.
2016: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle etc.
2017: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don etc.
The only letters left out are Q, U, X, Y and Z.
If there are more than 21 storms in one season, they are given Greek letters i.e. Alpha, Beta etc.
So, now you know why storms have names and where those names originate!