Prior to the 1950s, there was no uniform way to name hurricanes. Some used saints' names, others used longitude and latitude. In 1953, that all changed when the U.S. started using female names to identify storms. By 1979, the use of female and male names was adopted for storms in the northern Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Why it matters: Naming hurricanes stemmed from the need to make communication about such destructive storms more salient and less confusing, especially if two storms were happening at the same time.