As Hurricane Idalia made landfall this morning along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend as a Category 3 hurricane, and Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, we send our very best wishes to all residents, first responders, and linemen in its path and express hope for their safety and well-being.
For Atlantic hurricanes, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) assigns both male and female names in alphabetical order from six lists that they rotate through every six years. This means that hurricanes of the same name may reappear every six years. However, when a hurricane is so severe, deadly, or costly, like Floyd (1999), Harvey (2017), Katrina (2005) and Ida (2021) were, then for reasons of sensitivity those names are permanently crossed off the list and other names are selected to replace them.[i] Also, excluded from these lists are the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z because not many names begin with them.
The purpose of these names is to make the storms distinctive, especially when more than one is present, for better information sharing and coordination capabilities.
So, with that in mind, when the immediate danger from the hurricane has passed and recovery is well underway the WMO might consider whether (weather??) to add the names of several important and distinctive diseases to the six rotating lists. Because like hurricanes, diseases are natural disasters that leave destruction, and sometimes death, in their wake.
Several potential examples are Hurricane Gout, Hurricane Arthritis, Hurricane Diabetes, Hurricane Sepsis, Hurricane Heart Failure, Hurricane Parkinson’s, Hurricane ALS/MND, Hurricane Head and Neck Cancer, Hurricane Endometriosis, etc. Besides likely increased name recognition for the hurricane in question, an added benefit is the attention and awareness that this nomenclature system would bring to the disease itself, as well as potential financial support. Plus, all these diseases are associated with awareness ribbons, as shown below.
By the way, Idalia means “to behold the sun”, which is ironic, to say the least. A more precise name for a hurricane that begins with the letter “I” is insomnia, which possibly 50-60% of the population suffers from normally, and close to 100% suffers from during a hurricane. Besides hurricanes, risk factors for insomnia include older age, female gender, and psychiatric disorders like depression.
After “I” is the letter “J”, as in “Juvenile Diabetes”, which affects over 200,000 children.
How about Hurricane JD?