A Hurricane by Any Other Name

I’ve never met a Sandy I didn’t like, but this hurricane betrayed its benign moniker.  There have been worse—Katrina was no pussycat—but in New York we’ve never had one that closed down the entire subway system, flooded all our tunnels, or shut our mighty bridges. It’s easy to forget that when nature gets angry, it doesn’t matter what sweet name it’s given. It’s free to act beyond ferocious, vicious, and unforgiving. Sandy is over, but the sense of being in limbo persists. It was one thing to anticipate something named Sandy, another to be hit by its brute force.

Simply calling it Sandy, giving a brutal spiral of violent weather a pet or, worse, human persona, reduces its threat. Sure, the media cautioned against its 100-mile continuous winds and the catastrophic flood surge it produces, but how could anything named Sandy be so mean? The name lulls us into a sense of complacency and disbelief. Sandy, like Wendy and Trudy (in fact, most names ending in Y), are goody-two-shoes names, reserved for the sweet and kind who live by the golden rule. How can anything with that name vengefully rise up and crash down so hard as to throw this mighty city into stone-age chaos?

Well, it did. And I think the naming convention should be reconsidered. Maybe the National Weather Service or whoever is responsible (I can’t tell because Sandy took my Internet down), will think twice before they name the next one. Rather than give hurricanes a human face, why not name it for what it is . . .

5 thoughts on “A Hurricane by Any Other Name

  1. Rhea

    Why would you want to redo the entire naming convention just because of a silly Y at the end of a name? Think of it as a wake up call—maybe now you’ll think twice before underestimating someone or something just because their (her) name ends in ‘-y’. (and FYI, Tony is next on the list, although I’m doubtful that this ‘-y’ would lull you into complacency).

  2. Kevin

    In Japan, they don’t give the typhoons names; instead, they number them—e.g., Typhoon No. 1, No. 2, etc. Seems much more sensible to me.

    As for why we insist on naming them, I’d like to think that the head of the National Weather Service at the time was just angry with a bunch of people, and decided to get back at them in alphabetical order…

  3. Wendy

    Interesting take… But I don’t think that the name of a hurricane does much to limit the perceived threat myself…I think anyone who looked at those radar shots and paid attention to the barometric pressure of that thing knew it was a huge and serious and fatally dangerous.

    I can also assure you that not all Wendy’s are “sweet and kind” or “goody two-shoes”. And I’m sure that my husband would agree.

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