PUBLISHED IN THE HERALD FEBRUARY 13
Storm Dennis is on the way, with high winds, low temperatures and Amazon Basin-levels of rainfall promised/threatened for the weekend. And all I can think is: why do they give storms such uncool names?
Dennis! In all fairness. That’s a name for the man who bleeds the radiators in your office. Dennis is the driver of the mini-bus that brought you on a day-trip to Ballybunion last summer. Dennis is that guy you play five-a-side soccer with, the big lanky fella who hasn’t much of a first touch but is a good man to get on the end of a cross.
Dennis is simply not a cool name. The only rock ‘n’ roll Dennises in history were Dennis Rodman, Dennis Bergkamp and Les Dennis. And frankly, that’s not enough.
Previous weather events had far more attention-grabbing monikers. Storm Darwin: I love it. It speaks to us of the pitiless fury of nature, red in tooth and claw, how all life is defined by a never-ending battle for survival in the great game of evolution.
Storm Ophelia is good too: in referencing the tragic character from Hamlet, it reminds us of man’s mortality, how we are mere whispers on the breeze of chance, here for a brief moment then washed away by the Biblical “flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven”. Ooh, spooky.
And The Beast from the East? That speaks for itself.
But now we have Storm Dennis. Pah. Even calling it Dennis the Menace won’t cut it, I’m afraid.
We need to give these terrifying, ferocious forces of destruction much better names: cooler, more dangerous-sounding, with a bit of edge and a bit of flash. An unapologetically macho moniker like Rick, Dave, Butch or Thor The Mighty Hammer would do the trick, and could give hysterical weather forecasters on satellite channels the chance to show off all those wild gestures and manic outbursts they learned in broadcasting school.
“HURRICANE BUTCH is on its way!! It’s BIG, ROUGH and SCARY!! Just like the guy I met IN A BAR LAST NIGHT! But that’s enough about MY LOVELIFE!!! The forecast is…LOCK YOUR DOORS!! Because BUTCH is on his way!! And HE’S ANGRY!!! GRRRR!!”
I’d definitely tune in for that. Sadly, it won’t happen for at least another 11 months, as names for the 2019-2020 “storm season” have already been decided by a meteorological brains trust in Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands. Still, I’d like to see #StormButch trending as soon as possible on Twitter, just to get everyone ready.
Speaking of getting ready, one other problem with effete, limp or uncool storm names is that we don’t take the threat seriously enough. If Storm Terminator was forecast, I’d be bunkering down in the basement with a rifle and a thousand cans of spam six months ahead of time. For Storm Feeble, Storm Pretty Flowers or Storm Hozier, not so much.
I’ve been looking at the still-unused names for this storm season, trying to work out a likely threat level. Storm Francis will surely be timid enough, relatively speaking, after the famously gentle saint beloved by birds and small woodland animals.
Hugh reminds me too much of Hugh Grant to get stressed. Iris is named for a flower – nothing to worry about. Ellen, Liam, Maura, Olivia, Willow and Róisín are all too nice.
As for Storm Kitty? Ah here. You might as well name it Storm My Little Pony.
On the other hand, Gerda puts me in mind of the doughty heroine of The Snow Queen: one of the most terrifying stories ever brought forth into creation by the fevered subconscious of humanity, and furthermore, it’s all about bad weather – freezing winds, wild snows, the whole world turning into a melancholy, doomed palace of ice. Now that’s a goddamn storm.
Noah brings up thoughts of the Old Testament flood – not the kind of thing you want to be considering just as you discover that the hardware shops are sold out of sandbags and buckets.
Jan has a hard Nordic edge about it; Piet has a hard Dutch edge. Samir, while not exactly scary, at least sounds exotic, and thus cool (ish).
Tara, then, reminds us of the old High Kings of Ireland, for whom the weather was not an objective meteorological event, which could be mapped and understood, but the fierce, dreadful eruptions of the angry gods. So that’s one to stay indoors for, just in case our forebears were right.
Finally, we come to the pick of the bunch. Storm Vince – now that’s what I call a proper name. Vince: he could be a 1950s rockabilly hero riding his motorbike down the dark highways of the soul; he could be a fat Mafioso wheezing as he drinks espresso and listens to Nessun Dorma.
In this case, he/it is a potential storm, but either way, it’s a cool, tough-guy name. Vince is worthy of our fear and respect.