Back in 1953 the National Weather Service began naming tropical cyclones. Today these storm names are maintained by an international committee at the World Meteorological Organization. The names are listed in a six year interval that are rotated each year. In other words, the storm names for 2011 will be the same for the storms in 2017.
This holds pretty true for most years except when a storm is so horrific it's name gets retired so not to invoke any terrible memories. When there is a storm of that magnitude the committee decides on scratching the name off the list and then comes up with a new name.
Some of the names that have been retired are Katrina, Igor, Ivan, Andrew, Gloria and Hugo.
The 2012 storm names for the Atlantic are:
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