The tropical wave east of the Caribbean (about 1300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles) is being watched for development into a tropical cyclone. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is currently giving it a greater than 50% probability of developing into a tropical cyclone within 48 hours. When we get to the third named storm of this hurricane season, whether it is from this current disturbance or another one, it will be named Cristobal.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives two pronunciations: kri-ˈstō-bəl\ and the Spanish krē-ˈstō-väl. In both cases, the accent is on the second syllable. Today I spoke with Bill Read, the Director of the NHC, who tells me the NHC will be pronouncing it Cris-TOW’-ball.
The Atlantic basin tropical and subtropical cyclone names are determined by an international committee – the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee. The Director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center is the Chairman of this Hurricane Committee which consists of 26 members. These members are primarily directors of national meteorological services within the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Canada and Bermuda. The region now has six lists of names for Atlantic storms. A given list is reused every six years unless a name is removed due to large loss of life or large damages.
The name Cristobal was first used in 2002. The Hurricane Committee replaced the name Cesar with Cristobal after Hurricane Cesar struck Nicaragua in 1996. Cesar was responsible for at least 51 deaths on its trek through the Caribbean Sea and Central America. Most of the deaths were attributed to heavy rainfall which caused flash flooding and mudslides. The death total included 26 people in Costa Rica which was not in the direct path of the hurricane but was hit by floods and mud slides.
For additional information on naming storms/hurricanes, see my blog from September 28, 2007.