Naming storms here in the UK is a relatively new phenomena – the Met Office and Met Eireann only started doing it in 2015. Since then we’ve had the likes of Storm Doris and Storm Barney; this post was inspired by the recent Storm Brian.
The main reason that they’ve adopted using names is to raise awareness, you see.
Names are quite good at that. In my absence, you may have heard about the attempt to get Britain excited about a new research vessel by opening the name suggestions to the public – which gave rise to the incredible Boaty McBoatface.
The names the Met Office and Met Eireann use are also crowd-sourced, but they select names from the most popular suggestions rather than it being an open vote.
Part of me is particularly heartened by the possibility that Doris may have been a popular name suggestion. I had a *slight* crush on the name Doris a few months back which just happened to coincide with her being published on a list of extinct names that made the rounds in the media.
I feel like I might be digressing slightly.
Before 2015, we simply did just call storms ‘The Great Storm of 1985’ and so forth.
However, at the same time, the US is also naming storms and since we’re a helpful bunch over here, we don’t rename any US-named tropical storms or hurricanes that head our way – we refer to them by the name our American cousins bestowed the storm. A recent example of this is when Hurricane Ophelia came our way and rather than renaming, e simply called it ex-Hurricane Ophelia.
As for home-grown storms, they only get a name if they’re thought to have the potential to cause significant impact in the UK and/or Ireland, i.e. when an amber or red weather warning is issued.
As for the names used, I’ve alluded to the process of picking the names, and below is the list of current names in use for this season.
Aileen, Brian, Caroline, Dylan, Eleanor, Fionn, Georgina, Hector, Iona, James, Karen, Larry, Maeve, Niall, Paul, Rebecca, Simon, Tali, Victor and Winifred
There are no names beginning with Q, U, X, Y and Z (for obvious reasons!), and names already associated with a prior catastrophic weather event – like Hurricanes Katrina and Irma – are also avoided.
The Met Office have done some research to check whether their theory that naming the storms raises awareness – and 89% of the people they asked were aware of the impact of Storm Doris bringing severe weather.
So it seems that it really does work!