What’s in a name? A storm in a teacup

Kate Livingstone.
Kate Livingstone.

We all remember the rather unfortunate but equally hilarious name that was given to an infamous ‘hurricane’ in Scotland a few years back.

Last week we had Storm Abigail and now we have Storm Barney on the way.

I’m not sure where this naming phenomenon came from, but I’m fairly certain it has something to do with America - they have been giving hurricanes an identity for some time now.

I suppose the logic behind it is to raise awareness. In this, the age of Twitter and Facebook, it’s easier to get a message across if it’s catchy, and giving a storm a quirky name would fall into this ethos.

The Met Office published a list of names it would use for North Atlantic storms that could cause a substantial impact on the UK. Using a naming convention similar to the one used in the USA, there is a name for each letter of the alphabet excluding Q, U, X, Y and Z.

The names chosen were; Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon and Wendy.

Last week’s storm Abigail was fairly high profile and covered well across radio, televised and online news which left us all quaking in our boots for her approach.

She did cause a fair bit of disruption to travel and it wasn’t very nice to nip out to the shops at lunchtime if you forgot your umbrella but the storm was no where near as horrendous as I was led to believe. Was it all a bit of media hype? I’m not sure.

I am firmly of the opinion that it’s far better to be safe than sorry, so I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a fan of the idea.

If giving a storm an identity gives us all a bit more prior warning of potential travel disruption or even just reminds us to bring our brollies to work, it can only be a good thing.

Now storm Barney is on the way and I’m wondering how quickly this list of names will be used up.

It seems that the rain has been nonstop for weeks now. I know I live in Scotland and a spot of rain is to be expected now and again but at this rate we’ll all be wearing our flippers before long.

Give us a break ladies and gentlemen of the meteorological world, there’s only so much we can take!