The World Meteorological Organization now names hurricanes using a system that alternates male and female names alphabetically. For 20 years or so beginning in 1953, however, all of these destructive storms were tagged with female names, and descriptions of their movements in the Atlantic Ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico tended to be colored with sexist cliches. Storms were called fickle when they’d change directions, and teasing or flirting when they’d approach landfall.
Calling hurricanes by name:
- The maritime tradition of referring to the sea as female might have played a role. It’s also possible Army and Navy meteorologists named storms after sweethearts back home.
- For hundreds of years, Caribbean islanders named storms after the patron saint of the day on which they struck.
- In 1979, the weather community agreed to include male names on the roster, citing intense pressure from groups like the National Organization for Women.