Henry: “Do you know why hurricanes are never named after boys?”
Sally: “No. I don’t. Do you know why?”
Henry: “Of course! If they were named after boys they would have to be called ‘himicanes’!”
This popular joke of the 60’s died in 1979 when we began using male names for tropical storms and hurricanes.
Background: For every year, there is a pre-approved list of names for tropical storms and hurricanes. These lists have been generated by the National Hurricane Center since 1953. At first, the lists consisted of only female names; however, since 1979, the lists alternate between male and female.
Tropical storms are named alphabetically from the list, in chronological order. Thus, the first tropical storm of the year has a name that begins with "A" and the second is given the name that begins with "B." The lists contain names that begin from A to W, but exclude names that begin with a "Q" or "U." If a storm increases in intensity, it may be upgraded to "hurricane."
These were the names for 2009:
FEMALE NAMES MALE NAMES
The word hurricane comes to us from the Caribbean region, where the Carib Indians used the term “huaracan” meaning “big wind.” In the Pacific Ocean region, hurricanes are called typhoons, which appear to come from the term “Tai-phung” that also means big wind. In the Indian Ocean region, hurricanes are simply referred to as “cyclones,” which refers to their meteorological definition as a low-pressure weather system with a cyclonic rotation. Interestingly, the earth’s rotation around its axis causes wind flow patterns in the northern and southern hemisphere to be reversed. So hurricanes that hit the U.S. rotate in a counter-clockwise direction while cyclones that hit places like Australia in the southern hemisphere rotate in a clockwise direction.
Although hurricanes are not as fast as tornadoes, they are much larger. They can be hundreds of kilometres wide. The Atlantic Hurricane season begins on June 1st. It ends on November 30th.
On average, Canada has about 4 hurricanes per year.
In 1775 a hurricane (sometimes called the Independance Hurricane) hit the coast of Newfoundland and it killed approximately 4000 people. Newfoundland’s fisheries "received a very severe1 stroke2 from the violence of a storm of wind, which almost swept everything before it," the colonial governor Robert Duff wrote shortly after it struck. "A considerable number of boats, with their crews, have been totally lost, several vessels wrecked3on the shores," he said. “Ocean levels rose to heights "scarcely ever known before" and caused great devastation”, Duff reported. A total of 4,000 sailors, mostly from England and Ireland, were reported to have been drowned. A localized storm surge4 had reached heights of between 20 and 30 feet.
An unknown yachtsman5 trapped by a hurricane, reportedly6 once said:
“Do you know that you cannot breathe with a hurricane blowing full in your face? You cannot see either. The impact on your eyeballs, of spray and rain flying at over a hundred miles an hour, makes seeing quite impossible. You hear nothing except the scream7 and booming8 of the wind which drowns9 even the thunder of the breaking seas, and you cannot move except by dent10 of terrific11 exertions12. To stand up on deck, is to get blown away like a dead leaf. You cannot even crawl13; you have to climb about twisting your arms and legs around anything solid within reach.”
Hurricane Katrina had formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing some deaths and flooding there before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm had weakened before making its second landfall14 as a Category 3 storm on the morning of Monday, August 29 in southeast Louisiana. It caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system15 catastrophically failed16, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland17. Eventually 80% of the city became flooded and also large tracts18 of neighbouring parishes,19and the floodwaters lingered20 for weeks. At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Economist and crisis consultant Randall Bell wrote: "Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Preliminary damage estimates were well in excess of $100 billion, eclipsing many times the damage wrought21 by Hurricane Andrew in 1992."
Rumour has it, that our associate “Vera” was named after typhoon “Vera”, which hit the coast of Kanzai, Japan on September 26th 1959. Over 5000 people died that day. The estimated cost of the damages was over $261 million dollars. So, if you have Vera as a teacher or corrector, you best be on your best behaviour!