Lisa Davis: What’s in a hurricane name?
Sep 02, 2012 | 2049 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The kids and I were playing recently with a website that finds anagrams for your name. For instance, enter “Lisa Davis” and it rearranges the letters to spell “Livid As As” (which sounds pretty much like the way I stutter when I’m livid).

If I add my middle name to the mix, I become “As An Invalids.”

Use my maiden name, I’m “Skill As Advertise.”

With my middle name and my maiden name, I’m “Skinless, Valiant Dear.”

Maybe I should stop there.

In the same vein, the arrival this week of Hurricane Isaac inspired us to look up hurricane names.

There have been many Hurricane Lisas, as well as a couple of cyclones and some tropical storms.

There was a Hurricane Lisa in 1998, which stayed out in the Atlantic and never came close to land.

There was another one in 2004, which did much the same thing.

There was another one in 2010, which only briefly got strong enough to be considered a hurricane, before blowing itself out.

My namesake storms behaved rather eerily like I do: unpredictable, blustery, brief outbursts of hurricane strength, before losing interest, calming down, and wandering off aimlessly and harmlessly over the north Atlantic.

Names were first given to hurricanes in the mid-1900s, according to the World Meterological Organization, which is now in charge of keeping the lists of hurricane names.

In the beginning, only female names were used. Whether this had anything to do with the women’s suffrage movement is unclear.

Since 1953, storms in the Atlantic have been named from designated lists. There are six lists, which are used in rotation. Lisa will come up again in 2016.

Each list contains 21 names, one for each letter of the alphabet, except for Q, U, X, Y and Z. So no Hurricane Ulysses. Or Xavier. Or Zero.

But there could be a Hurricane Chantal, or Erma, Lorenzo, Nestor, Ophelia, Sally, Teddy, Vicky or Wilfred.

“Hurricane Teddy” doesn’t sound like much of a threat. It reminds of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, threatening to torture prisoners by strapping them into the comfy chair.

My favorite name on the list is (wait for it) Hurricane Wendy.

Those are just the names for storms in the Atlantic. There are whole different lists of names for storms in the Pacific (Norbert, Raymond, Tina, Zelda — they’re not biased against Z’s in the Pacific). There are different lists for Australia (Kofi, Mal, Olo, Zazu) and the Indian Ocean (Fanoos, Giri, Nisha, Phet, Rashmi).

There are no hurricanes named for my children, although Hurricane Hugo comes close.

There is a hurricane named for my husband, Hurricane Bob. Despite its friendly and unassuming moniker, Hurricane Bob stormed its way up the New England coast in 1991, leaving more than $1 billion of damage in its wake.

This is where I should stop drawing analogies.

Both Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Bob were so destructive that their names were retired from the official lists.

“Hugo” was replaced with “Humberto.”

“Bob” was replaced with “Bill.”
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