Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear People Named Katrina...Sorry About That

This past week marked the end of one the major meteorologic time periods of our year in the United States: hurricane season.

Hurricane Katrina as seen from not the Gulf Coast.
From June 1st to November 30th every year, coastal inhabitants and island dwellers all over the United States, Caribbean, and Central American quake in their boots, sandals, or merely in the rough, durable skin on the bottoms of their feet, due to the knowledge that God is watching them with an eye that is capable of ripping their face off with sustained 150 mph winds and then cleansing it with rain that I assume feels like being shot at from a barrage of wet BB guns.

Severe weather and natural disasters have always fascinated me.  How conditions can come together to create a swirling funnel of tornadic death clouds and how the Earth's crust can shift in a way that thrusts fiery orange magma out of the ground truly wrinkles my impressive brain.  I prefer that no one is hurt when these things occur, but they fascinate me nonetheless.

The fact that things like hurricanes do cause damage to the well-being of the human population, however, is what really purples my nurples.  Furthermore, the way we document the calamity is downright irresponsible.


The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has six master lists of tropical cyclone names for the North Atlantic region.  These lists are used on a six year rotation to name hurricanes each season in alphabetical order according to their chronological occurrence.  If there are so many hurricanes in a respective season that the WMO runs out of names, the remainder of the storms in that season will be named using the Greek alphabet.

This process, in a word, is bullshit.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina famously ripped through the Gulf of Mexico, causing more than 1,800 deaths in the bordering coastal regions.  It was also that same year that Kanye West informed us that George W. Bush does not care about black people, and Mike Myers nearly crapped himself on live television.

Those 1,800+ deaths are horrific, as are the immense number of people displaced or otherwise affected by the storm, and I extend my condolences to all that have been affected by such a tragedy.  For those of you thought I didn't have feelings and didn't know when it wasn't okay to joke, shove that in your pipe and take a few puffs.

But seriously, there is a group of people that were affected by Hurricane Katrina that go unnoticed, and I would like to acknowledge them.

In 2005, Katrina was the 246th most popular baby name in the United States.  In 2007, that number had risen to being the 600th most popular.  In 2009, the name ranked 815th.  To put this in perspective, in 2009 the 45th ranked girl baby name was Layla, Aniyah ranked 180th, Jazmin came in at 209th, Esmerelda was 298th, Ximena 311th, Priscilla 415th, Yaretzi 478th, Zion 732nd, Patience 747th, and coming in at 794th: Monserrat.  In 2009, all of these names were more popular than Katrina.  Just out of curiosity, how many people have you met named Monserrat?  Don't answer that, I really don't care.

How many babies that were supposed to be named Katrina fell victim to instead being called Ximena or Zion?  Meanwhile, how many toddlers just entering day care or preschool are shot nasty, uncomfortable glances by their teachers?  There are people being persecuted by the World Meteorological Organization's irresponsible hurricane nomenclature, and I will not stand for it.

There is a better way to name these storms, and I would like to take this time to make a formal proposal to the WMO for them to alter their hurricane naming process.  By "formal", I of course mean "in an obscure blog post that few will read, and even fewer will take seriously."  Here's how it should be done:

When a tropical depression forms, it is designated with a number until it reaches tropical storm status.  In the new naming system, these storms should continue to be indicated as numbers until they dissipate.  This way, the storms can be named retroactively based on their overall performance as a hurricane.

If a storm fizzles out after a short time in an embarrassingly brief fit of glory, it can likely be designated as something along the lines of Tropical Storm Two Pump Chump or Hurricane It's Okay, That Happens to Everyone Their First Time.

For a storm that makes landfall in a predominantly Jewish area and wreaks havoc, Hurricane Hitler seems like the only logical option.  In the event that a storm makes landfall in Mexico and drops the population of the dominant natives like flies, Hurricane Smallpox just plain fits the bill.  The storm that was supposed to be huge but just didn't live up to expectations?  Hurricane Ryan Leaf.  How about a storm that produced little precipitation, but whose winds perpetually blew everyone in town?  Well that, my friends, is Hurricane Your Ex-Girlfriend.  What a whore, am I right?  And lastly, a cyclone so depressingly devastating I didn't want to even mention it: Hurricane Simona Halep.

The new naming system I feel is, like most things that I do, flawless.  It allows time for reflection and contemplation of a storm which allows for responsible naming.  My Nana always taught me to laugh at life or it will be too long.  In retrospect, that maxim has probably steered me down a course of finding things that are inherently inappropriate to laugh at absolutely hilarious, but in the end I think she is right.

So think about it, World Meteorological Organization.  Because from now on after a hurricane, when FEMA doesn't help to heal anyone, maybe the laughter will.

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