ASK BRANDY: A hurricane by any name is serious business

Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Brandy Dolce

Q: Is there a method for naming hurricanes?

Jackie, 34, Edison

A: Hurricanes are named using a six-year, rotating list of names, which, I might add, does not contain my own. Brandy. It’s not like it’s that strange anymore (or ever was, for that matter).
I called Frank Lepore, public affairs officer at the Tropical Prediction Center-National Hurricane Center in Miami to see if he could inconspicuously plug my name onto the list.
Lepore, who on Tuesday afternoon was in the process of mapping the growth of tropical storm Jeanne, told me he thought Brandy had been used as a hurricane name in the Eastern Pacific region (each region has its own set of names). Looking through the lists, he realized he was mistaken.
“Boris,” he uttered.
No, Frank, I’m not a Boris. But thanks for checking.
When Lepore asked why I’d want something named after me that can cause death and destruction, I paused.
“I’m not talking category four here, maybe just a small category one with a little wind, a little rain, nothing serious,” I said.
To which he said, “You sound more like a category-four person.”
I’ll take that as a compliment.
Anyway, I was surprised to find out that the hurricane center works with 24 other countries to develop storm-naming procedures. In fact, those countries have lists of names native to their regions.
For instance, storms in the Central North Pacific region get names like Akoni, Lo and Uleki, while Australian re-gion storms have names like Ophelia, Poncho and Ronda. The Southwest Indian Ocean region has Xaoka, Yelda and Zuze. Our region, by the way, omits names beginning with Q, U, X, Y, and Z because names starting with those conso-nants are a rarity.
One of the reasons for using regional names, Lepore said, is for broadcasting purposes.
“You’ve got to have names that are not likely to mean something (derogatory) if mispronounced … when it is broadcast,” Lepore said.
Take Saddam Hussein for example. In Arabic, Saddam means “one who crushes,” whereas former President Bush’s mispronunciation of “SAD-uhm” means “barefoot beggar.” I don’t know that anyone actually minds that little slip of the tongue, but feel free to speak up. Moving on.
Moving on. Names of particularly destructive and deadly storms are retired to avoid confusion in scientific and le-gal literature. After 10 years, the names can be resurrected, Lepore said. For instance, Alex took the place of Andrew, a category five hurricane that, in 1992, caused $26.5 billion in damage to Florida and Louisiana.
Visit our Web site, www.app.com and click on the Web Extras button for a link to: the National Weather Service Tropical Prediction Center
Ask Brandy accepts questions on the bizarre, the ordinary and everything in between. Questions are answered Fri-days in the Jersey Life section of the Asbury Park Press. E-mail your question, name, age and town to brandy@app.com or fax your information to (732) 643-xxxx.

-The Asbury Phurricaneark Press

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