Sunday, June 1, 2014
What's in a (hurricane) name?
This changed in 1978 with the first male names used for Pacific tropical storms and the following year for Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico storms. Bud became the first masculine Pacific tropical storm but never reached typhoon status. He only lasted three days before being downgraded to a tropical disturbance, a veritable girly-man storm.
Hurricane Bob in 1979 was the first testosterone-laced storm on this side of the Panama Canal. Not to be confused with his son, Hurricane Bob of 1991, the elder Bob did, nonetheless, pack a punch as he landed at Grand Isle, Louisiana (pronounced Looz-e-anna by non-New Englanders) as a Category 1 cyclone with sustained winds of 75mph.
Since then, tropical storms have included both male and female names which are on a six-year rotating schedule. The most destructive storms' names are retired so as not to confuse historians, such as the younger Bob and Katrina (2005). Of the 53 Atlantic/Gulf names retired since equal opportunity naming started, 28 have been male.
This year's Atlantic lineup has a few interesting twists:
Arthur - "A" names rarely turn into devastating storms because they are early in the season, but Hurricanes Andrew and Alicia prove that any of these storms can be dangerous.
Bertha - She sounds like a big storm. Would you rather be facing Hurricane Tina or Hurricane Bertha?
Cristobal - Columbus' Spanish name. Seems like a natural to wander into the West Indies.
Dolly - What can I say? Singer or sheep?
Edouard - Widely known for his important role in the transition from realism to impressionism.
Fay - What was I saying about Tina?
Gonzalo - Googling his name turns up a lengthy list of soccer players. Definitely a Gulf storm.
Hanna - Could be the first hurricane to make landfall in Butte, Montana.
Isaias - First name of the president/dictator of Eritrea, the birthplace of the most recent Boston Marathon winner.
Josephine - Napoleon Bonaparte's main squeeze, at least until she went on a spending spree while he was busy trying to conquer Egypt.
Kyle - Kyle Field is an 83,000 capacity stadium at Texas A&M. The area is served by TV station KYLE. Definitely a Texas-bound storm.
Laura - A common name that could be infamous, like Diana, Irene or Sandy.
Marco - Polo.
Nana - This is what our grandchildren call my wife. Is this really a name?
Omar - O=Oh, as in "Oh my!" Mar=Sea in Spanish. Fitting.
Paulette - Like Josephine, this is really a man's name, like Bobette, Davidine, and Hankaphine.
Rene - Guy or girl? Why not Hurricane Pat?
Sally - See Laura.
Teddy - Could be the largest hurricane ever.
Vicky - Is this a coincidence?
Wilfred - We'll never get to Wilfred. That's why they picked it.