This query comes from a colleague who had to refer back to 2005 in a piece he was writing.

Q: When one refers to a named natural disaster, such as hurricane Katrina, is the “h” up or down?

A: Chicago and AP agree: capitalize names of storms (“Hurricane Katrina”). Of course, you’d use lowercase if you’re not using the storm’s name, even if it still refers to a specific storm. Note the three uses of hurricane here:

Someday, Hurricane Katrina may be known as the New Orleans hurricane of 2005. To folks on the Gulf Coast today, it’s known as “Katrina” or just “the hurricane.”

You could probably make a case for a cap H on the last word, but it’s correct as it stands. Both style guides also emphasize that you should use the pronoun it, not she or he, when referring to named storms.


Have a question of your own? Drop me an email at greencaret[at]gmail[dot]com.