Hurricane Sandy is making its debut on the named Atlantic storm venue these past few days. It has already hit the Caribbean and killed some 50+ people. And now it is ever so slowly churning its way up the USA Atlantic coast and into the north-east of the USA. Since my name is Sandy and I survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992 in Homestead, Florida, I have been intrigued by the Atlantic storms and hurricanes. Thus this post.
Sandy has been on the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) list of Atlantic hurricanes since 1982. But Sandy has patience (unlike myself) and since 1982 she has not even been a named storm. But 2012 is her year — and six others. There have been six named storms using names never used on the official hurricane name list: Kirk, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, and Tony.
So how did I get my name on the list? Personally I would rather be on someone’s Xmas list. This just must be my year though. I made my first jury duty list (and sat on a jury), and now the hurricane list.
1953 was the first year of creating an organized list of female names for named storms in the Atlantic. My full first name, Sandra, was on the list in 1957, 1963, and 1971.
In 1971, the list contained 10 years of set female names for named storms. However, due to various womens’ groups protesting the sole use female names for storm identification, this was changed again in 1979. Yes, I too was part of that whole womens rights era. (And here we are over 30 years later and women are still receiving less pay than men!) 1979 was the year that both male and female names were used. And that is the current system used today.
There are six sets of names. The first storm of the year is named for the A name on the list. If the year is an even-numbered year (such as 2012), the male names are given to the odd-numbered letter name, such as A = 1 = Alberto, C = 3 = Chris, and so on. The female names are given to the even-numbered letter name, such as B = 2 = Beryl, D = 4 = Debby, and my favorite, 18 = S = Sandy. Note that the following letters are not used in the name list: Q, U, X, Y, and Z. The system switches for odd-numbered years. Example: 2011 had the following names: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, and so on.
If a named storm causes significant damage and destruction, the name may be retired from the six sets of names. The WMO decides on the name’s retirement because its continued use could be deemed insensitive. If retirement occurs, the name can not be used for at least 10 years. A new name replaces that retired storm on the list, starting with the same letter and of the same gender.
I wasn’t until 2005 that an S-letter name (Stan) was retired. I’m thinking Sandy might make retirement this year. Although I hope not, predictions are just too nasty to not think that Sandy is indeed the Frankenstorm of 2012. BTW, meteorologists are up in arms about the use of Frankenstorm instead of Sandy. Too much room for confusion. I agree, but only because I don’t want to be called Frankenstorm.
For all in Sandy’s path, I will be thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way. Stay safe!!!