A storm by any other name

I am down in Cornwall this weekend with Becca. We were down at the same time last year, and were blessed with unseasonal sunshine. This time we have been less fortunate, with our visit coinciding with the arrival of Storm Dennis.

I found myself wondering about how storms get their names, which it turns out was very far from an original thought. Regardless, I was interested to learn about the father of the practice, Clement Wragge. How it started in the 1950s, with hurricanes receiving women’s names, before moving to alternating men’s and women’s names in 1979.

UK storms meanwhile started receiving names as recently as 2015, the upshot of a campaign to raise awareness of severe weather. We also alternate men’s and women’s names in alphabetical order, all submitted by members of the public. After Dennis we have Ellen, then Francis and Gerda to look forward to. We have never yet gone past K (Kitty, if we are so unlucky).

I wonder whether there are any lasting effects of this naming, beyond a few namesake jokes. Whether, echoing a Princeton study of hurricanes, people’s response to a storm is influenced by its name. Whether more or fewer children will be called Dennis this year as a result.

It is pretty windy here tonight. I hope everyone is staying safe out there.

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