Wednesday, 9 September 2015
In the Atlantic, depressions become tropical storms and rush towards the Caribbean and the southern United States. Homeowners batten down their properties, hide in the cellar and hope, guiltily, that the devastating forces of nature pass them by and take their neighbour instead. Island communities are devastated and thousands can lose their living, if not their actual lives in a single night of howling, hurricane-force winds and thousands of tonnes of rain cascading from angry skies, for no reason whatsoever. Weather, like islam, doesn't care how many it kills.
According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh named storm and fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Over 1200 people lost their lives and over $100bn of property damage was caused. Meanwhile, in Britain, we’ve had it tough. In 1883 the Eyemouth Disaster killed 189 fishermen. In 1953, severe winds and a high spring tide killed 300 in the North Sea flood. In 1987 Michael Fish narrowly avoided forecasting a hurricane with the subsequent loss of lots and lots of old trees and 22 people. And in 2013/14 the cessation of dredging and a bit of heavy rain submerged the Somerset Levels. I don’t recall anybody dying as a result.
But now the Met Office want to start naming UK-bound storms ‘...in an attempt to improve awareness of major weather threats’. Perhaps the Met Office hasn’t noticed our national preoccupation with the weather... And our almost universal shrug of indifference when it finally hits. Yes there’s the odd YouTuber who posts pictures of bollock-sized hailstones or a family of ducklings happily paddling along a flooded gutter, but in the main we tend to just put on a coat or stay indoors.
But no longer is this level of ‘meh’ acceptable. Derrick Ryall, head of the public weather service at the Met Office, said: "We have seen how naming storms elsewhere in the world raises awareness of severe weather before it strikes.” Yes, indeed, Derrick (you really spell it that way, like a lifting device?) in places where storms cause devastation and death on a regular basis, it’s a bloody good idea but in Britain where most of the housing stock has steadfastly refused to be blown down, year after year, all you are doing is feeding the increasing propensity of Brits to seek compensation for imagined losses. We do have insurance, you know?
Further, another Met Office spokesman said: "There is no system at the moment for naming storms. It is random and you can get the same storm being given different names by different forecasters. This is what leads to confusion in the media and the public and why we are piloting an official system." Who was confused? Weather forecasts come at us a hundred times a day and all we need to know is, is it going to be windy/wet/dry/hot where I am? Naming it? Haven’t you learned how inhospitable we are to even desperately needy refugees? The idea that we are going to adopt a fucking bit of wind and give it a personality by naming it is a tad fanciful to say the least.
There's a mo-storm coming...
And anyway, this is Britain. If we named a storm John we’d be called racist Anglophiles. Lloyd would be pandering to the Welsh, Gordon would be howled down by the gays north of the border and Patrick would risk raising the ire of Ireland. If we opted for girls’ names we’d end up with wet ones like Cissy or Petunia. But give it a few years and that problem will go away. In the coming UK Caliphate every storm will be called mohammed.