August 29 marks the 10th anniversary since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, killing 1,200, according to the AP Stylebook, though other sources estimate higher numbers. Here are AP style terms to know when writing about hurricanes.
- Capitalize the word hurricane when it’s part of a storm’s assigned name — e.g., Hurricane Emily.
- Regardless of the name, use it and its, not she, her or hers or he, him or his, in pronoun references
- Hurricanes and typhoons are tropical cyclones with a minimum sustained surface wind of 74 mph or more. Hurricanes develop east of the international date line, and typhoons originate west of the line. They are called cyclones in the Indian Ocean and in Australia. After one loses strength, often after landfall, it downgrades to tropical storm status.
- Capitalize category and use a numeral when you give a hurricane’s strength – e.g., Category 5.
- Avoid bad and sexist puns when using hurricane names. AP’s hurricane entry in the stylebook is worth quoting: “And do not use the presence of a woman’s name as an excuse to attribute sexist images of women’s behavior to a storm. Avoid, for example, such sentences as: The fickle Hazel teased the Louisiana coast.”
See the AP stylebook entries under weather terms for more information on hurricanes and other weather events.