Female-Named Hurricanes Kill More Than Male-Named Storms, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that hurricanes with female names are usually more deadly than their masculine counterparts.

The research team thinks this may be because people subconsciously associate female-named hurricanes with feminine stereotypes of tenderness and affection -- kind of like the way you subconsciously picture a bunch of hairy men sticking syringes into assorted sausages when you hear "University of Illinois research team."

In their study, the researchers found that out of the 47 most damaging hurricanes from 1950 to 2012 -- excluding Katrina and Audrey -- female-named hurricanes caused an average of 45 deaths, while male-named storms caused an average of 23.

Changing a storm's name from "Charley" to "Eloise" -- the study found -- can greatly alter people's perceptions of its danger and nearly triple its death toll (as well as cause people to ask themselves what kind of monster would name their daughter "Eloise").

Though this is only one study and much more research is needed to definitively say whether or not gender stereotypes cost people their lives, it does beg the question: Is it time to stop naming storms?

Which begs the question: Of course!

If it wasn't for Al Roker, naming hurricanes would by far be the weirdest thing in meteorology. And now we're finding out it could be costing folks their lives? It's time to stop the madness.

Natural disasters don't need names. Nobody says, "Look out for Tornado Jim!" They just run.

Because it's a goddamn tornado.

Earthquake Susan isn't a natural disaster capable of killing thousands; it's what 6th graders call the lunch lady when she's not around.

If scientists need a method to keep track of these storms, fine. Call it hurricane 3BF. Hell, add a few special characters in there and use it as a WiFi password.

Perhaps name them after vegetables, or call them all Hurricane Obamacare. Lord knows that would scare the shit out of America, or at the least get some serious coverage on The O'Reilly Factor.

But it's time to stop personifying these assassination attempts from Mother Earth. If there's even a 1% chance that naming a storm Bertha could cause people to die, then it's not worth it -- even though anyone who judges the lethal quality of a hurricane by its name will probably get taken out sooner rather than later.

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Ryan Pfeffer is Miami New Times’ music editor. After earning a BS in editing, writing, and media from Florida State University, Ryan joined the New Times staff in November 2013 as a web editor, where he coined the phrase "pee-tweet" (to retweet someone while urinating). Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, he’s now neck-deep in bass and booty in the 305.
Contact: Ryan Pfeffer