Nearly four decades ago, federal hurricane forecasters dropped a routine of giving tropical cyclones female names exclusively. In an era of emerging gender rights movements, it was an acknowledgment that characterizing the devastating storms "female" was sexist and demeaning.

Male and female names now are used on a every-other storm basis, drawn from set lists of names A-to-Z that rotate every six years. A name is retired when an individual storm is so deadly or costly that reusing it would be unseemly.

The real world results are a grim tie, so far. Since 1979, 52 storm names have been retired - 26 male names and 26 female names.

For this year's names go to www.nhc.noaa.gov.

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