UK storm names 2015: Why our storms are called Barney, Frank & Nigel

 
Richard Chapman
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UK storm
Forget Joaquin - we get Storm Nigel, Frank and Barny (Source: Getty)

Hurricane Joaquin battered parts of the Bahamas and caused torrential rainfall across New York, but it was less of a phenomenon that had originally been thought.

Still, there's no getting away from the fact that the name was impressive. This side of the Atlantic, the names we give our storms are more tea room than panic room.

Read more: Is the weather worse than usual, or are we just noticing storms more because of the names?

The next 21 storms deemed to have the potential for a "substantial" impact include names including Barney, Frank, Nigel and Wendy, and they have been bestowed by the great British public.

But this is a relatively recent initiative, brought in by the Met Office and Met Eireann in the hope that by naming storms it will raise awareness of severe weather and ensure greater safety of the public.

It seems we respond better when we think of these powerful weather events as beings.

The names will be taken from the list, alternating between male and female. They are: Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon and Wendy.

To avoid any confusion over naming, the already established convention of naming remnants of a tropical storm or hurricane that has moved across the Atlantic will be kept. That's why we refered to Hurricane Joaquin rather than Hurricane Jeremy, for example.

Read more: How common are hurricanes like Joaquin in the UK?

Naming of storms and/or hurricanes is common in the US and across many parts of the globe. The practice started in 1953 – before that they were named arbitrarily. However, this is the first time the UK has named storms.

To ensure storm names affecting the UK and Ireland are in line with the US National Hurricane Centre naming convention, letters Q, U, X, Y and Z will not be used.

Those letters are not used in the Atlantic region due to the lack of names – although in the past there have been a few, such as Yurith and Zorna.

Storm names reflect the sensibilities and culture of the region. In the Atlantic region, names sound American or Hispanic, while central north Pacific names are suitable for those areas.

That's why the Americas face Joaquin, Igor, Wanda and Tobias. And here in the UK, we can look forward to (or dread, depending on your perspective) Storms Nigel, Phil and Steve.

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