What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

June 26, 2023

"They say we die twice - once when the last breath leaves our body and once when the last person we know says our name." -Al Pacino

I think about this often, especially when I think of my great-grandmother. As time goes by, fewer and fewer people remain on this earth who knew her and loved her like I did. Her name, Lula Mae, is precious to me.

What's the connection between names and insurance? Hurricanes! And Tis' the Season! You can find lots of excellent information about hurricanes and the steps you need to take to prepare for them. I encourage you to seek out that information – a Google search will bring you good pointers.  

But why and how are Hurricanes named? 

Historically, reporters and weather forecasters used names for storms referencing their location or the date. You'll find information about the Great Hurricane of 1772, the Galveston Storm of 1900, and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 on the word-wide web. 

In the late 19th century, an Australian weatherman, Clement Wragge, began to give names to storms using the letters of the Greek alphabet and characters from mythology. He went a little off the beaten path and started using the names of political figures he didn't particularly like. This method gave him a way to indirectly blame "the cause of great distress" or "turbulence" on them by using their names. Sly – but not "politically correct," even in those days. 

By World War II, meteorologists in the military needed a better way to keep up with hurricanes and clearly communicate when forecasting. Some used the names of their wives and girlfriends. It's hard to tell if that was a tribute or an oxymoron! In 1945 the National Weather Bureau, which later became the National Weather Service, introduced a naming protocol based on the military phonetic alphabet. However, that lasted only until 1953, when options were all used up. At this point, the bureau returned to the informal practice of using random women's names. America was a leader in weather tracking then, and soon the rest of the world adopted the technique.

The decade of the '60s brought with it champions for Equal Rights. The National Organization for Women (NOW) became vocal about the practice of using only women's names for storms. It took a while – much longer than it should have – but in 1979, the National Weather Service and the World Meteorological Association finally moved to alternate the name bank annually between men's and women's names. Names of large-scale storms with significant losses of life and property are retired from use out of respect. Now, if we can just get the "powers that be" also to apply the name Him-icane vs. Her-icane….just saying.