After all the damage they cause, haven’t you always wondered why we’re on a first name basis with weather phenomena like hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones?
The answer is that the use of short, distinctive names allows for quicker and more precise communications, rather than having to communicate the latitude and longitude of a weather patten to identify a storm. This is especially important for ships which may have to communicate quickly in order to get out of a storm’s path.
The practice of naming storms dates back to World War II when U.S. Air Force and Navy meteorologists began naming hurricanes after their wives and girlfriends. This lasted until the 1960’s when feminists began to take issue with the naming convention which connected women with devastating and deadly disasters. In 1979, the World Meteorological Organization began to alternate between male and female names.
The World Meteorological Organization sets strict guidelines for the naming of storms. For Atlantic Hurricanes there is a list of names for six years alternating between both male and female names. In the seventh year, meteorologists start at the top of the list again. But don’t count on hearing about another Hurricane Katrina in your lifetime. The names of storms that are particularly deadly or are large disasters are retired and the names aren’t used again.
The Canadian Red Cross is monitoring Isaac’s path and is on stand by, ready to assist as needed.