So, it’s hurricane season again, the time of year when we are expected to cringe and shudder at the approach of storms with terrifying names like Alex, Beth, Rodney, and Wilma.
Mother Nature gives birth to a whole set of little terrors each hurricane season, so it’s only natural that we have a set of names by which to reprimand them–six sets of names, actually.
You don’t have to be a Weather Channel enthusiast to know that hurricane names are, by design, short, distinctive male and female names, listed in alphabetical order each year . What you may not know, however, is who is responsible for naming the hurricanes and why odd names like Gaston and Virginie made the 2010 list.
Since 1979, there have been six lists in rotation for Atlantic hurricane names, each established and maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
A sanity check for all of you who may have thought: “I swear I remember a hurricane with that name before.” You’re right. Each list is repeated every seventh year.
An exception to the rule. If a storm is so deadly or catastrophic that its continued use would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity, the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected by the WMO committee to replace it. Katrina, Floyd, Dolly, and Ike? All gone.
So how are new names decided upon by the WMO? Just like any proud mother and father, a lot of thought goes into naming a newborn.
The committee takes into consideration the public’s response toward a name. While a child with a complicated name may become exasperated by teachers’ constant mispronunciation of their names, a complicated hurricane name could have more catastrophic consequences. Thus, hurricane names should be easy to recall and on the shorter side.
The popularity of the first letter in a name is also a factor in the naming process. Current lists exclude Q, U, X, Y, and Z due to the dearth of names starting with those letters (Though hurricane names from 1958 included Udele, Virgy, Xrae, Yurith, and Zorna.)
The committee also considers ethnic names. Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, much like many of our country’s immigrants, have ties with European nations. Thus, the names may be French, Spanish, and English, in lieu of the major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
No wonder people don’t evacuate – how are we supposed to take storms with names like Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Bob seriously?
If they want us to take these storms seriously, they have to start giving them scarier names.
Here are my nominees for more colorful hurricane names: (Don’t forget your washer can be turned into a beer cooler.)
>> Hurricane Mother-in-Law. Once she reaches your home, there is no stopping her.
>> Hurricane Bubba. Because you know the first place the storm is headed is the nearest trailer park.
>> Hurricane Miley. Came in like a wrecking ball.
>> Hurricane Disney. Sure to consume whatever’s left of Florida.
>> Hurricane Fluffy. Just because “Hurricane Fluffy” makes me smile.
>> Hurricane Godzilla. Everyone get out of your cars and start running!
>> Hurricane Job. In honor of a man who knew a little something-something about God’s wrath.