Last autumn, the Met Office ran a pilot project whereby members of the public suggested names for storms that have the potential to cause ‘medium’ or ‘high’ wind impacts on the UK.
A new list of names has been compiled using the suggestions submitted through social media last year. This year’s list will begin again at ‘A’ and alternate male/female, starting with a male name. The full list of names is shown below:
I am sort of looking forward to see what happens with ‘Storm Doris’!!
The idea behind the project was to raise public awareness of severe weather systems before they reach the UK, and therefore ensure greater safety of the public. By attaching a name to a weather event, it has been found to help people track its progress, and also prepare people for and avoid dangers that might come along with it.
Weather forecasters have used names for particular storms in the past, but the choice of names was random, with the same storm sometimes being referred to by several different names. They have also latched onto names of ex-hurricanes that arrive on our shores from across the Atlantic. These names come from six lists drawn up by the World Meteorological Organisation and used in rotation.
The UK list follows the same structure of the American system, running through the alphabet and alternating between male and female names. There are no named storms beginning with the uncommon letters Q, U, X, Y or Z. When an American storm is particularly serious, like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it’s name is withdrawn from the list never to be used again. I presume that particularly damaging storms will get similar treatment if they occur in the UK.
If a storm hits the UK which has already developed over the Atlantic and has already been named, then the original name will continue to be used, not a new one from the Met Office list.
It is unlikely we will ever get through 21 storm names in a season. For instance, in the very bad winter of 2013/14, only 14 storms would have received names. Should an unusual season occur needing more names, the list will return to letter A to a different name. If tropical storms go beyond 21 names, the Greek alphabet is then used – starting with storm alpha.
One interesting point about storm names is the research that has shown how hurricanes with female names are more likely to hurt more people than those with male names. Scientists believe that this is because the public finds female names less threatening.