Why We Should Name the Storm

No Telling
Oldest known photograph of a tornado – August 28, 1884. South Dakota.

Yes, it’s hurricane season. I’ve been watching reports lately about that feisty Jimena, the one who threatens to ugly-up the Baja peninsula. Odd are she’ll wrap herself up once inland and head right straight through Arkansas. They always do, and even though these hurricanes are watered down by the time they visit us, there’s usually plenty of rain and a few fiery storms to make things interesting. We’ll have an errant tornado or three.

The tornadoes we’re stomped with have no names, at least nothing as swanky as “Jimena.” It must be because hurricanes are measured by what devilry they may bring, while tornadoes are only measured afterwards. All storms have numbers – category 4, F-3, that sort of thing – but only hurricanes have names.

So why can’t we name our tornadoes? I think we need a frame of historical reference at the very least. Here’s an example:

“That twister back in ’93 was a demon. ‘Member it?”

“That one that took Mr. Hightower’s fence and made a necklace of it over to the water tower?”

“Naw, I’m talkin’ about the one in the fall, the one that sliced the Chevron station in half. Found that ‘Pay Inside’ sign – remember? -stuck in the front glass of daddy’s Ford. You was there.”

“Damn. I thought it was that one closer to Christmas when we found all them dead fish from the waterspout. Them filleted ones.”

“Naw, now, that was the Chevron twister. Picked up the whole stockpond and shook it like a hound.”

“Ohhh, yeah. You’re right. I was there.”

You see my point. Our disasters need naming just like anyone else’s. Probably even more so, because we can’t rally ’round a good storm story if everyone’s confused.

I realize the National Weather Service (NOAA) has a lot on its plate just now, what with all the hurricane naming and warnings and projected paths and such. I hate to give them more work than they can comfortably handle. They’re performing a vital service and I’m sure many of their employees are working long days.

So here’s my proposal, NOAA: You name the tornadoes whenever you feel it’s warranted, and I’ll do the gruntwork necessary to supply the names. Gratis. In fact, I’ll start out with a few right now. Feel free to use them as you see fit and let me know if you need any more. I found these in the local phone book and there are scads more where these came from.

Tornado Names: Female

Anaverle, Beulah, Cozetta, Dymple, Elva, Flodine, Georgia, Halogene, Iva, Jo Nell, Kitty, Lurleen, Mavis, Nevetta, Otha, Pearlene, Queenie, Rowleena, Sissy, Twanette, Una, Vernice, Wanda, and Zelma.

Tornado names: Male

Ace, Buford, Clyde, Dax, Elmore, Finis, Garrett, Harvenious, Israel, Junior, Kimbro, Lester, Millard, Noble, O’Dell, Percy, Rusty, Skeeter, Twig, Ulis, Vester, Windle, and Zeke.

I left a few letters out, mainly because I’m not partial to names beginning with Q, X or Y. Makes no difference. What’s important is that we give each tornado a distinct identity. Simply calling a twister an “F-2” is hardly personal, and believe me, nothing is more personal than finding your car twisted around the uprights at the local ballfield.

Besides, using local names gives the storm a regional flavor. Retelling the storm would be much easier, and dire warnings more effective.

“Get the kids in the cellar, honey! This’n makes Skeeter look like a soft breeze!”