Yesterday, Storm Imogen ravaged parts of England and Wales.
Seeing the devastation caused by Immy on the TV news, made me ponder as to who actually names these storms.
After extensive research (3 minutes on google), I found out that the Met Office and Met Eireann use an alphabetical list of monikers chosen by the British and Irish public.
As a distraction from having your roof tiles blown off onto the car bonnet or a displaced fence panel flattening your price roses, last Autumn both meteorological centres invited the public to provide names for UK and Irish winter windstorms.
I’m sure knowing you had a part in naming the storm will provide comfort when you’re down at your local panel beaters garage, having the dints removed from the car bonnet!
I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to learn the underwhelming manner in which these forces of nature acquire their names.
I was secretly hoping that, on discovering the next storm to hit these sceptred isles, the name was chosen during heated arguments by the proud parents Frank from the Met Office and Siobhan from Met Eireann.
I can imagine the conference call between Frank in London and Siobhan in Dublin would go something like this:-
In a cavernous Met Office conference room, Frank slouches at the imposing table, made from the souls of people ostracised by capitalism. Each blemish on its pitted surface the result of a Third World carpenters tears, apart from the carving that exclaimed ‘Frank is a dickhead!’. The uncomfortable equatorial heat in the room exacerbated by the air conditioning being set at gas mark 6.
Frank perspires in his cheap suit that has seen better days. Not many better days mind you, as it probably started fraying as he walked out of his tailor’s shop.
The early fraying a result of the suit receipt rubbing against his lapels in the bag, which was also fraying. Frank concluded that it wasn’t a good idea for his tailor to print his receipts on heavy duty sandpaper.
Meanwhile, in a much smaller Met Eireann conference room Siobhan sits chewing a pen. Her mind racing with ideas of how she can outsmart the English meteorologist in the upcoming conference call and wishing she had a more normal habit than chewing female swans.
Although both delighted about the revelation of a new arrival, they cannot come to agreement on an eponym for the forthcoming storm.
After dialling Siobhan’s conference number, Frank bends his neck slightly to edge closer to his conference phone.
Feigning strong influencing skills, Frank attempts to lay down the law by immediately telling the thirty something Irish woman “I want to call it Louise after my dad!”
“No way!” Siobhan responded firmly in her melodic Irish lilt. Before adding “No storm of mine will have an English name. Anyway the next one should start with an ‘N’ and I want to call it Niamh.”
“You’ve got to be winding me up! It’s spelt Niamh but pronounced Neeve…… I want our storm to at least have a moniker that is spelt the same as it’s pronounced!” a forceful Frank countered. Then questioned “What do you think of Norman, after my uncle Bernard?”
“I don’t mind the name Norman per se, but it would remind me of the bumbling English klutz Norman Wisdom!” Siobhan wavered for a moment.
“Well the storm would cause mayhem in its path, just like the lovable late buffoon Mr Wisdom. So it would be pretty apt, wouldn’t it?!” argued the Englishman with tongue firmly lodged in cheek.
“Look, I think we need to compromise here, Frank, or we will be here all day!” the red haired Dublin girl suggested in a conciliatory tone.
“I’m open to that suggestion! I need to get off soon to make up tomorrows forecast!” the big nosed, socially inept, spotty bastard agreed.
“Right then, Niamh it is!” Siobhan exclaimed and hastily pressed the ‘call close’ button on the conference phone.
She then rose from her chair and headed toward the door of the conference room. As she got to the door she smiled with self-satisfaction, prior to muttering “Fecking English eejit!” under her breath.
Over in London, Frank shrugged his shoulders causing one of his poorly made jacket sleeves to fall to the floor. As he picked up the errant piece of cloth he consoled himself, muttering to himself “Ah, never mind, it’s only a name.”
He then departed the vast conference room to inform his boss he’d decided on the name Niamh and told Siobhan she can like it or chuffing lump it!!
Niamh cap (below)- A great girls name, but be aware that after the ‘N’ none of the other letters are used in its pronunciation!
Personally, that’s how I want my storms naming; so take heed Met Office if you’re genuinely open to input from the public.
Oh and from now on, can you begin storm names with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z? I know you omit them for uniformity because the Americans don’t use them. However, if they told you to jump off a high building would you?…….What do you mean “Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!”
Why can’t we have a Storm Quentin, a Storm Ulysses, or a Storm X-Box? Apart from the fact they’re too camp, too Greek mythologyish and too advertisy. I know the two of those words don’t exist, but my poor spelling doesn’t seem to have stopped you reading this narrative so far.
Below is a list of the most popular names we (the public) have given the storms that manifest themselves in the UK and Ireland this winter. The next storm will be called Jake by the look at it. If it’s as big a whirlwind as little Jake next door to my mum and dad we’re gonna need to baton down the hatches!