Dan Rattiner's Stories

Nor’easter Ned: Let’s Name Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Tsunamis and Floods

Why is it we only give human names to hurricanes? Are they so special? We get all sorts of extreme weather and natural disasters. We get tornadoes in Oklahoma and earthquakes in Arizona. And now we have new kinds of disasters. Floods in Houston. Tsunamis in Japan. Outages in Puerto Rico, wildfires in California. (A currently large wildfire in California is called the Thomas Wildfire, but it is not named after a human. It is named after Thomas Aquinas College near Santa Paula, where it started.)

This time of year, we have nor’easters in these parts. They can be big blows. Last winter we had two. If you don’t officially name them, how do you tell them apart? You talk to someone about one and they want to know if you mean the other. They should be Nor’easter Nancy and Nor’easter Ned.

“Boy, that Nor’easter Ned sure tore up the pea patch last month. A lot worse than Nor’easter Nancy.” Both would be brought to mind and we’d know right away which was which.

Also, as you see, I have begun naming big disasters with human names that start with the same first letter of a person. The disaster kind of flows off your tongue. Volcano Victor. Tornado Tom. It helps.

Name earthquakes after names with the letter E. Earthquake Earl. Earthquake Eddie. I could see Heat Wave Harry and Heat Wave Henry. I could see Glacier Calf Gladys. And I could see Tsunami Sam. Yes, I think we have to use official names that have the proper pronunciation and alliteration. Tsunamis require names with an S. Also, it separates them from tornadoes. Tornadoes, I think, deserve the T names. They’ve been around longer.

I know what you’re thinking. If we name every disaster, we are soon going to run out of names. Well, I have a solution for that. With hurricanes, there is a bar set at a certain intensity that the storm must exceed to be called a hurricane. Have the meteorologists create bars like that for all other extreme weather. I don’t know what any particular bar would be, but the experts would know. Obviously, a flood that inundates Miami would be deserving of a name. A flood in your basement would not. A disaster getting a name would have to exceed the level set by the meteorologists. Below that, no name.

I also thought it might help to solve this problem if we gave all male names to one kind of disaster and female names to another kind. For example, a tornado could be named for a man. It’s aggressive and angry. But a flood, as important as it might be, is quiet and less overtly violent. But that really isn’t helpful in this matter. Women can get very angry. And men can be very gentle. In this age, equality is an important consideration.

But I digress.

Well, we could STILL run out of names. A stop-gap might be to name these events after pets instead of people. Forest Fire Fido. Tornado Tabby. It would hold things off for a while.

There is also the fact that you could start calling disasters “the second” Or “the third.” We have King George II. We could have Volcano Vivian II.

We could also use “Jr.”

Finally, if we use all these names for all these calamities, there might come a day when the world puts its mind to it and stops throwing crap up into the atmosphere and we have a decline in all the major weather disasters.

If at that point we feel a certain nostalgia for naming things, we could start calling minor weather events by name. I’d like to see a mist named Mary, for example. We might name the green flash at sunset, if there is an especially extraordinary one, George.

Well, I hope I haven’t given you a headache with this huge blizzard of names for things. Blizzard? I left out blizzard. Call this Blizzard Bill.

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