Oceans of Opportunity

Bill, Danny…what’s in a name?

Weekend #2 this season with threats of severe tropical weather keeping me at my desk, rather than outside. This is the first summer season in several years with two major storms making their way here in the Northeast so early. Last week, Hurricane Bill, and this week, Tropical storm Danny.

The reports cause a degree of hysteria. Of course, they are all well-intentioned with the purpose of protecting human lives. I cannot agree more with the need to respect the ocean, especially during a storm. HOWEVER, the paranoia generated all too early in the forecast is a bit much. Last week, for days and days and days, mariners were warned to stand clear of the water. And yet, here in RI anyway…we saw clear skies and flat calm seas.

So, what’s in a name? Naming storms in the US with the alphabet sequence started in 1951. For a brief few years, Atlantic storms were named exclusively after females, though this ended in 1978 for continuity, as both male and female names were used for Pacific storms. Today, the World Meteorological Organization reviews lists of storm names and generally uses names with French, Spanish, Dutch, and English origin because hurricanes are tracked by the weather services of many countries. The Tropical Prediction Center keeps a constant watch on developing storms in the Atlantic. Once a system develops a counterclockwise circulation and wind speeds of 39mph or greater, the Center gives the storm a name. Names from storms that have caused significant death and/or damage are often retired from future use.

For those of us who venture offshore, use common sense. Weather forecasts can be glorifies, and even flat-out wrong, BUT Mother Nature reveals herself in ways we sometimes never imagined. When she wants you to meet Bill, Danny, or whomever, you’ll meet them. I was in the Bahamas when Katrina, a developing tropical depression, metamorphosed into a category 1 hurricane, literally overnight, and with no warning. We had no time to evacuate, not time to board up houses or shelter, and no time to protect personal belongings. Things happen fast out there, and its always a fresh reminder of our small role on this Planet.

Use your head, be smart, be safe out there.

ML

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