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Never had a Tropical Storm named after me before…

I’ve never had a tropical storm named after me before, and particularly not the first storm of the season.  Drudge initially announced it a few days ago with “Hello ALEX!” but that was a different storm, apparently.

Regardless of whether it impacts the coasts, I’d like to say that I’m uncomfortable with the whole idea of having storms named after people, even their first names.  

I don’t know the entire history of why the authorities who pick these names first chose to name hurricanes and tropical storms with actual people’s names, but I have to feel that there are a lot of Katrinas out there in the world who wish they hadn’t.   Really, it’s an irresponsible and basically stupid thing to do.   Tropical storms and hurricanes are not people:  they’re atmospheric phenomena.  We should really resist the urge to anthromorphize nature, and naming storms after people seems like the worst possible example of it. 

It looks like the first tropical storm of this season will be named after me and hit Mexico, primarily.   It’ll be Tropical Storm Alex, I guess.  I happen to like Mexico — I’ve been there and had a wonderful time there — and basically I wish everyone in Mexico no ill will.  [Even if they get clobbered, I'd help them.  And they should really look hard at the corruption of their own politicians].

I guess it took the first tropical storm of this season to make me really think about how it would feel to have a storm named after me.  Hopefully it won’t be very bad or very destructive.  But beyond that, I think we should abandon the practice of using people’s names to refer to natural events like hurricanes and storms.  Scientifically there’s not much basis for it (what cultural names do they omit?) and in terms of popular perception, which isn’t what scientists should necessarily strive for, there’s little to recommend it.   And I think it would be more accurate if we referred to storms with a simpler and less arbitrary system than picking someone’s names off a list.  For example:  TS201001.

I don’t want to be remembered for a tropical storm, any more than all the “Katrinas” in the world since 2005 have wanted to be associated with the path of destruction that hurricane took through New Orleans and everwhere else along the gulf coast.  I’d like to see the demographic data on how many girls born since 2005 have been named “Katrina” — which used to be a perfectly good name to consider, but how many people want to name their daughters that now [except the brazen?].

It’s kind of silly that we do this any longer. 

I never really thought about it until I decided I didn’t appreciate it.  It’s OK if you name an element after its discoverer, or a process after its inventor, or a formula after the person who derived it, or a monument after a person who was instrumental in the event, or even a school of thought after the person who influenced it most — but naming a storm after a person just seems a little nuts, and I’ve never heard a single compelling explanation for why they’re named that way.

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