A blustering, dangerous swhirl of disorganised hot air called Don is looking to threaten the Americas.

The storm – which by coincidence has the same name as the US president – is “small,” “not particularly well organised” and likely to fade away quickly, according to the National Hurricane Center, which gave it its name.

But the experts who name storms have rejected the idea that it was named after Mr Trump as nothing more than a coincidence.

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Mr Trump mostly calls himself Donald, though has been referred to by the shortened version of his name. And Donald Trump Jr – who has got the president in so much trouble the last couple of weeks – is often called Don by people including his father.

“I hadn’t even thought about that,” said Max Mayfield, the former National Hurricane Center director who chaired the committee that added the name Don to the storm list in 2006. “I guarantee you that it has no connection to Donald Trump.”

National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen confirmed the name was not a political choice. 

There’s a long established international system to name storms. The World Meteorological Organization, part of the United Nations, has a committee in each storm basin that creates six lists of storm names for each ocean region. They rotate through six years so 2017’s storm names are the same as those from 2011 and 2005. They include English, Spanish, French and Dutch names because those are the languages spoken in the storm basin, and they alternate between male and female names. 

When a storm causes lots of damage, the meteorologists retire that name and come up with a new one to plug in the six-year cycle. In 2005, Hurricane Dennis raked much of the Florida panhandle and was retired along with Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma in that record year. Because Dennis was an English male name, the United States got to suggest another English male name. Mayfield said Don, like other names, wasn’t chosen about anyone in specific. 

It is unlikely that Don the storm will be retired. The hurricane centre’s forecast discussion calls the storm “small,” “not particularly well organized” and likely to dissipate in 72 hours. But storm watches and warnings were issued for Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia. 

When Bill Clinton was president, there was a Hurricane Bill in 1997. In 1992, when George H.W. Bush was president, there were not enough storms to get to Georges, the seventh name on that year’s list. The name Georges was retired after 1998, before George W. Bush became president.

This year was bound to put storm names under a political microscope. In the eastern Pacific the eighth name on this year’s list is “Hilary.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press


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