Hurricane change: It’s Cabo Verde now, not Cape Verde

You might have noticed, or not, that the National Hurricane Center this year has started using the name Cabo Verde instead of Cape Verde in reference to the island nation off the coast of Africa.

Traditionally, storms that develop from tropical waves washing off the coast of Africa have been called Cape Verde hurricanes.


But in 2013, the government of Cape Verde decided that the Portuguese designation of its name would be used for official purposes and asked the U.S. government to refer to the nation as Cabo Verde instead of Cape Verde.

Technically, the official name of the 10-island nation is the Republic of Cabo Verde.

Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said the World Meteorological Organization Region IV adopted Cabo Verde as the official name in April.

The center first used Cabo Verde publicly on Tuesday when referring to Invest 96 L, which was given a 50 percent chance of development in the short term this morning.

A National Hurricane Center forecast refers to the Cabo Verde Islands, formerly known as the Cape Verde Islands.

According to the U.S. Department of State:

“In a diplomatic note sent on November 27, 2013 the Embassy of Cape Verde requested that the United States Government change the name of the country from ‘Cape Verde’ to ‘Cabo Verde’. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved the change on December 9, 2013.”

Cabo Verde sits about 300 miles off the coast of Sengal and was under Portuguese rule for more than 500 years.

In a 2014 Boston Globe article, Leo Dillon, who heads the Geographical Information Unit in the State Department’s Office of the Geographer, said it could take a while for Cabo Verde to be adopted in the U.S.

“You’re going to see Cape Verde in the English news for quite a while,” he said. “In the colloquial sphere, it will be slow to be picked up if it gets picked up at all . . . just like when we changed from Ivory Coast to Cote d’Ivoire.”

Beginning in August, tropical waves exit the coast of Africa every three to five days and the Cabo Verde Islands will likely be mentioned often this hurricane season.


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