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From 2015, storms that give rise to code orange or code red in Western Europe will be given a name. The KNMI has also been participating in this since September 2019. You can read why this is done, which names there are and how it works in this article.

During storm month February 2020, storms in the news ‘suddenly’ had a name. Ciara and Dennis in particular caused very heavy gusts of wind in the Netherlands . It also stormed twice ‘nameless’, because these storms did not coincide with code orange or code red (Weather Alert) anywhere in Western Europe.

Since the storm season of 2020-2021, a name is sometimes issued in the event of a strong storm that does not have a code orange or code red. This is because a storm that is on the edge of code yellow and code orange criteria can also have a major impact.

Why are storms named?

Research has shown that naming storms raises awareness of dangerous weather. Warning of a storm with a name appeals to people more than warning of ‘a storm’.

In 2015, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and France started this. The Netherlands and Belgium have also been participating since September 2019.

How does it work?

KNMI works together with the government weather services of the United Kingdom (Met Office) and Ireland (Met Éireann). These three weather services form the Western Europe Group. There is also a South-West Europe Group (Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium) and work is underway on a South-East Europe Group (other countries Mediterranean).

The following applies: the naming is adopted. For example, if Spain gives a storm a name and this storm later hits England and the Netherlands, we use the name that the storm already has. And if Belgium gives the storm a name, this is different than when the Netherlands does this, because they work with a different list.

The same also applies to a possible tropical storm or hurricane that makes the crossing to Europe and has been given a name by the American weather service. This was the case in the autumn of 2019, for example, with ex-hurricane Lorenzo.

Which names are used?

In September, the start of the storm season, a new list of names appears every year.

The list contains a mix of Irish, British and Dutch names. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the most popular names are selected from public entries. The KNMI may also do this in the future.

It has also been decided to use the same letters that the US weather service has used for tropical storms and hurricanes for years. This is the entire alphabet, except for the letters: Q, U, X, Y, and Z.

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