Barbara Gale – First Hurricane Baby Name?


In 1950, the United States Weather Bureau started naming Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms.

The initial names came from a radio alphabet that began Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox and George. Because the alphabet happened to include several human names, you could say the first Atlantic storms that were “named” were the Charlies and Georges of 1950-1952.

It wasn’t until three years later that the USWB starting using human names exclusively. In 1953, it replaced the phonetic alphabet with a list of female names. (Male names weren’t thrown into the mix until 1979.)

The first storm with a female name was Tropical Storm Alice, the first storm of the 1953 storm season. I couldn’t find any babies named after Alice, but I did find one named after the second storm, Hurricane Barbara.

Hurricane Barbara traveled up the Eastern seaboard in mid-August. It struck the Outer Banks (islands off the North Carolina coast) on August 13. That night, a baby girl born in New Bern, N.C., to Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Ward was named Barbara Gale.

There were six other named storms (Carol, Dolly, Edna, Florence, Gail and Hazel) that season, but I could only find a namesake for one of them — Florence.

Hurricane Florence struck the Florida panhandle on September 26. Earlier that day, a baby born in Crestview, Florida, to Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Holt was named Sandra Florence.

Since 1953, many more babies — hundreds, probably — have been named for Atlantic hurricanes. Hurricane-inspired baby names I’ve blogged about here include Hazel (1954), Alicia (1983), Elena (1985), Gloria (1985), Andrew (1992) and Isabel (2003).


  • “Child Aptly Named.” Los Angeles Times 16 Aug. 1953: 23.
  • “Hurricane Florence Has Tiny Namesake.” Hartford Courant 27 Sep. 1953: 24A.
  • Worldwide Tropical Cyclone Names

2 thoughts on “Barbara Gale – First Hurricane Baby Name?

  1. They were talking about hurricane names on the radio this morning since Wilfred became a tropical storm but was quickly followed by Alpha (and now Beta). The weather person explained that the letters Q, U, X, Y & Z are not used “because there are not enough names” starting with those letters. This has bothered me all day. I know they use 6 rotating lists, which means 3 male/female names of each letter, and will they “retire” a name if it’s a particularly noteworthy storm (Katrina, Sandy) so they do need some names in reserve… however I do not think it is at all correct to say there are “not enough” options for these letters. Especially Q or Z — what’s wrong with Quincy, Quinn, Quintana, Quinlynn, Quanicia, Queenie, Quenton, Quazi, Quander, Quantel, Quade, Quester or Zoe, Zara, Zandra, Zelda, Zena, Zendaya, Zachary, Zachariah, Zebulon, Zeke, Zed, Zane, Zoltan?

    I really think the folks in charged should have thought a little harder before declaring a lack of names.

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