I’ve been wondering about all of these hurricanes and I’m pretty happy we don’t live anywhere near where hurricanes are.
If you thought Katrina was bad, back in ’05, Harvey was a complete disaster and it appears Irma was no pussy cat.
I began wondering about the names of hurricanes, so I did what most citizens in the Internet world do: I googled it. ( Google is, as you must know, the most important verb in the English language. It is the answer to almost any question and has been known to open up the whole world for those who avail themselves of it. But you must be sure not to let Google know too much about you, as the company has an intimate relationship with the feds.)
My first question regarding the names of hurricanes is where the names came from. Before 1979 all hurricanes had female names (a system begun in 1953)‒Gloria, Agnes, Hermione(?)‒but a group of women with nothing better to do with themselves, probably the NOW gang, thought it sexist that “her”icanes all were given women’s names. The issue was brought up in Congress (who very seldom has enough to do or when it does, very seldom does anything appropriate about it.) and a law was passed that made it a requirement that half of the she-named storms had to have boys names. So now we have Andrew, George, Rico and Jose and so on and on.
Something I didn’t know (or suspect)is that storms are named six years in advance. There are lists for the next six years. For example, this year hurricanes with such names as Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, and Gert have blown through someplace, and then as we by now know, Harvey, Irma, and perhaps, Katia, and if there are more storms, they’ll be called Lee, Maria, Nate and Ophelia, etc. I didn’t know hurricanes were prenamed. I had always thought some guy at the weather service said, “Okay, folks, here comes another one. Let’s put our heads together and think up a name. U-m-m let's see, we need a female name that begins with an “R”. Okay?” Next year the first three storms will be tagged Alberto, Beryl and Chris; in 2019, Andrea, Barry and Chantel. In 2023, a rotation of the same names used from 2017 through 2022 starts all over again.
There is, of course, an exception to the rule. If a storm is so deadly or costly that the use of its name for future storms would be considered inappropriate for (now hold onto your hats!) reasons of insensitivity, its name will be deleted from upcoming lists. Yep. I hadn’t realized we needed to be concerned with the feelings of storms, but as we are so sympathetic to almost every other thing, it wasn’t hard to see it coming. (Yeah, I know what they meant, but it's fun to make fun of.)
For example, the name Camille (1969) was stricken from the list; Agnes has been stricken (as per the storm of 1972), Andrew because of its devastation in 1992; and Catrina, Dennis, Rita, Stan and Wilma (as per the storms of ’05); Sandy in 2012; Just last year the names Matthew and Otto were erased. There are many others (as our sensitivity increases). I just discovered my own namesake‒Frederic‒was scratched in 1979, but I have no weepy feelings about it (but I’ll bet it got a bum rap).
There no doubt that we will never hear about another Harvey again. Or an Irma. It’s said Jose may linger for several days before assailing the Atlantic coast at some point. And “Katia” is out there someplace, destination unknown. Whether we’ll see either of the latter two on a list again is, at this point, a question mark. Let’s just say we hope not.