# 944: Hurricane Names

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## Revision as of 19:21, 12 December 2012

## Explanation

Like many people, Randall wonders what happens when the NOAA runs out of letters in the alphabet during hurricane season. Technically, the letters 'Q','U','X','Y',and 'Z' are not used because of the infrequency of names beginning with these letters. The NOAA does not use the next year's list; instead they use the Greek alphabet. This happened only once; in 2005 the final hurricane was named Hurricane Zeta(also see later comic 1126: Epsilon and Zeta). Given that zeta is only the sixth letter out of 24 in the Greek alphabet, there has been no practical speculation of exhausting the English and Greek alphabets. However, Randall (and probably many others) wonder what would come after the Greek letters. NOAA's website on hurricane naming systems doesn't state a recourse for the Greek alphabet, so using the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and numbering hurricanes are not canonical conventions.

While on the subject of nearly impossible amounts of hurricanes, Randall segues into infinite sets. A brief explanation by a non-mathematician is as follows: Some infinite sets are composed of countable terms with a definite sequence. For example, the set of all natural numbers {0,1,2,3,4,...} is countably infinite. It was then considered whether or not the set of all rational numbers (or fractions) is countable. If all fractions are listed in a table, the diagonals are a countably infinite set that will contain all rational numbers. The set of all real numbers (decimals, rational and irrational), however, is uncountable. Eric Cantor's proof of the diagonal argument (Cantor diagonalization) states that the diagonal sets of decimal places will represent decimals not on the list; therefore, the set of real numbers is an uncountable infinity. If hurricanes appeared at every location on Earth's surface, it would be natural (no pun intended) to try to number them. However, hurricanes at every infinitely precise point would be uncountably infinite, thereby foiling Randall's attempt to name them. At this point, the meteorologists decide to name all the hurricanes "Steve", which is popular on the internet as an arbitrary name. (Ironically, this makes "Steve" no longer arbitrary.) On April 13, 2011, Internet personality Chuggaconroy uploaded a Pikmin walkthrough that popularized "Steve" as a "random" name. This comic, uploaded several months later, also arbitrarily uses "Steve", as does the title-text in 1003: Adam and Eve.

## Transcript

- [A weather reporter sits behind a desk with an image of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding land masses displayed to his left. 9 hurricane symbols are scattered across the map, primarily over Cuba.]
- Reporter: After the latest wave of hurricanes, not only have we run through the year's list of 21 names, but we've also used up the backup list of Greek letters. All subsequent storms will be named using random dictionary words.
- Reporter: The newly-formed system in the gulf has been designated "Hurricane Eggbeater", and we once again pray this is the final storm of this horrible, horrible season.

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# Discussion

Actually, "Abel and Steve" is a play on the phrase "Adam and Steve"[1]

Also, a hurricane spins around destructively like an eggbeater. 24.41.66.114 04:52, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Marik Ishtar's Millenium Rod can control men and women named "Steve" I wonder if it can control storms named "steve"?99.102.154.28 01:47, 6 August 2013 (UTC)