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Here’s how Hurricane Dorian got its name — and what the internet is doing with it.

An explanation of meteorological monikers and memes.
Zack Braff, who formerly starred in the sitcom Scrubs as Dr. "J.D." Dorian, tweeted this Hurricane Dorian meme. [Twitter screenshot]
Published Aug. 30

How are storm names decided?

Military meteorologists started assigning women’s names to storms during World War II, according to geology.com. By 1953, the National Hurricane Center adopted this practice for naming storms that formed in the Atlantic. But people didn’t start assigning male names until 1979.

Currently, the World Meteorological Organization maintains six rotating lists of names for each of the three basins they cover (the Atlantic, East North Pacific and Central North Pacific).

Each list consists of 21 alternating male and female names. On years that end in odd numbers, the list starts with a female name. Even years kick off with male names.

A screenshot from the National Hurricane Center's website shows the rotating lists of names for storms that form in the Atlantic. There are sets of lists like this containing different names for storms that form in the East North Pacific and Central North Pacific basins. [National Hurricane Center]

After six years, the cycle begins again — in other words, forecasters will recycle the 2019 list in 2025.

You won’t find Katrina, Charley or Irma on upcoming lists. Especially destructive and deadly storms are removed and replaced with another name starting with the same letter.

Dorian entered the roster after Hurricane Dean caused 32 direct deaths in 2007, according to weather.com. Tropical Storm Dorian formed in 2013, but it didn’t cause damage so the name stayed on the list.

Where else have we seen the name?

Dorian is not a popular moniker. Out of the roughly 14 million Floridians in the state voter database, only 857 are named Dorian. Still, some of the most famous Dorians have already been immortalized in meme form.

In history, the Dorians were a group of people in Ancient Greece named after the mythological figure Dorus. In music, the Dorian scale is one of seven modes.

Facebook users have been getting creative with joke events as the hurricane approaches. [Facebook screenshot]

Actor Dorian Harewood appeared in Full Metal Jacket and Roots: The Next Generation. Chef Dorian Hunter is currently competing in the 10th season of MasterChef.

Then there are several fictional characters who share this name. Most notable is the protagonist in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel details the life of Dorian, a man who essentially sells his soul to maintain his youthful appearance.

Another hurricane-themed Facebook event. [Facebook screenshot]

The antagonist in the 1994 film “The Mask” was a gangster named Dorian Tyrell.

Finally, Zack Braff portrayed Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian on the sitcom Scrubs. The actor has been having fun with this fact on Twitter:

What other questions do you have about Hurricane Dorian? Let us know in the comments.

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind

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