Thus, the San Mateo Hurricane of 1565—which, by decimating a French fleet on its way to attack the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine, helped doom France’s efforts to control Florida—got its name because it made landfall on September 22, the day after the feast of St. Matthew. Before the 20th century, notable tropical cyclones (also called typhoons or hurricanes, depending on geography) were generally identified by the time when they occurred or the location where they struck. And if the swirl of nasty weather coalescing over the Gulf of Mexico strengthens as expected this week, it will be Tropical Storm (or maybe even Hurricane) Barry. John also possessed the highest recorded wind speed in a central Pacific hurricane, 175 mph (280 km/h), a record shared with the aforementioned Patsy of 1959. In the southern Indian Ocean or the South Pacific, they are tropical cyclones or severe tropical cyclones. Around 1100 PDT on August 20, John crossed into the central Pacific, the first of three basin crosses John would make. As violent as they are, these storms help to regulate the global climate, by moving heat energy away from the tropics and toward the poles. Hurricane John, also known as Typhoon John, was both the longest-lasting and the farthest-traveling tropical cyclone ever observed. Over the course of its existence, John followed a 7,165-mile (13,280-km) path from the eastern Pacific to the western Pacific and back to the central Pacific, lasting 31 days in total. The word hurricane is used for the ones that form in the North Atlantic, the northeastern Pacific, the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico. The practice of giving storms personal names appears to have originated with Clement Wragge, an Australian meteorologist who in the 1890s entertained himself by naming storms after women, mythical figures, and politicians that he didn’t like. Some recent names to have been retired are Katrina (2005), Sandy (2012), and Haiyan (2013). Hanah Jun and Patrick J. Lyons contributed reporting.  Additionally, in the Northern Hemisphere, the strongest winds and heaviest rain lie to the north of a tropical cyclone, so the atoll, which lay to the south of the storm's path, was spared the brunt of the storm. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. What makes a major storm a hurricane, a typhoon or a cyclone?  However, after eight days of slow westward movement across the Pacific Ocean, shear lessened greatly on August 19, and John intensified significantly and was designated as a hurricane at 17:00 PDT. The origins of Hurricane John were thought by the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) to be from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on July 25, 1994. There, John lingered for six days while performing a multi-day counterclockwise loop. The system was formalized in 1953 when the National Weather Service put together an alphabetical list of female names to be used for storms in the Atlantic basin. By September 1, John had weakened to a tropical storm and was nearly motionless just west of the Date Line. , Hurricane John near peak intensity to the south of, "Hurricane John Preliminary Report (page 1)", Preliminary Report: Hurricane John: August 11 - September 10, 1994, "Eastern North Pacific Hurricane Season of 1994", 10.1175/1520-0493(1996)124<1579:ENPHSO>2.0.CO;2, Tropical Depression Ten-E Discussion Number 1: August 11, 1994 09z, "Hurricane John Preliminary Report (page 2)", "Which tropical cyclone lasted the longest? , A strong ridge of high pressure over the northeastern Pacific Ocean forced John westward, where upper level wind shear kept John a tropical storm. Based on the NOAA’s historical tropical storm tracks data, which includes storms dating as far back as 1850, the map above shows a top-down view of every hurricane, cyclone, and typhoon in recorded history. In the Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea, both in the northern Indian Ocean, they are simply called cyclones. On August 25 local time, John made its closest approach to the Johnston Atoll only 15 miles (24 km) to the north. The practice of naming storms has a long history. As the storm moved slowly westward, Hurricane John continued to strengthen considerably in an increasingly favorable environment well south of the Hawaiian Islands; on August 22, John was designated a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale (the highest classification for hurricanes) and later that day (by Hawaii Standard Time) reached its peak intensity, with 1-minute sustained winds of 175 miles per hour (280 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 929 millibars (27.4 inHg). The storm slowly weakened from its peak as a Category 5 hurricane in the face of increasing shear, dropping down to a Category 1 hurricane with 90 miles per hour (145 km/h) maximum winds. By crossing into the western Pacific, John also became a typhoon and was referred to as Typhoon John during its time in the western Pacific. During an eighteen-hour period between August 19 and August 20, John further strengthened from a weak Category 1 hurricane to a Category 3 major hurricane. It comes down to location. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The sam…  Upon entering the Eastern Pacific the wave gradually developed, before the NHC initiated advisories on the system and designated it as Tropical Depression Ten-E during August 11. Hurricanes are rated in categories from 1 to 5 according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is based on sustained wind speed. Cyclones in the Indian Ocean are classified according to two intensity scales, depending on where they are, with terms like “very intense tropical cyclone” and “super cyclonic storm.” Australia rates cyclones much the way North America rates hurricanes, in categories from 1 to 5.