This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Nuts and Bolts: the I of the storm.

The fact that Antje began with an A was entirely coincidental. 

The storm that ripped off the Antje's mast soon became known as Antje's storm, and once the storm had a name the message about its dangers seemed to spread around much more effectively. 

And so the practice of storm-naming spread.

By the mid 1900s storms in America were being given girls' names to identify them, and by 1973 storms were (more fairly, I think) being named alternately with male and female names. There are six Atlantic Lists of names that are used in rotation, though any particularly deadly storm has its name retired and replaced, so we will never see another Katrina or Mitch or Tracy. 

This also means we can hope one day for a Hurricane Algernon or a Gladys.

The storms are named in alphabetical order, but missing out the letters QUXYZ (which shows, I think, a shameful lack of imagination). In the Eastern North Pacific their storm lists leave out Q and U, and they have, effectively, only two lists for XYZ: Xavier/Xina, Yorke/Yolanda, Zelda/Zeke. This works perfectly well because they start every year afresh with an A and so they don't often get down as far as X.

Australia has been particularly clever, including P/Q, U/V and W/X/Y/Z slots in their alphabetical lists.

Central North Pacific names are based. as far as I can see, on the Hawaiian alphabet, with names beginning AEHIKLMNOPUW.

But what about an area with no alphabet at all? Well, the order of Tokyo's list has Cimaron followed by Jebi, and no new start when a new year dawns.

The South West Indian Ocean list is very clever: not only were the names chosen by the various countries round the area, but it consists of several lists of the complete alphabet. Hurray for Urilia, Vuntu, Wezi, Quotto, Yekela and Zaina!

Britain has only just joined the name-the-storm club. It has decided to make do with a sadly restricted alphabet, but I must give it points for its first storm-name: Abigail.


Word To Use Today: hurricane. This word comes from the Taino hurakán, from hura, wind.

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