New research suggests it’s time to give the storms with feminine names a bit more respect. According to a recent study by University of Illinois researchers, hurricanes with women’s names are likely to cause significantly more deaths than those with masculine names — not because the feminine-named storms are stronger, but because they are perceived as less threatening and so people are less prepared.
The study found that people in the path of severe storms with a feminine name may take fewer precautions, leaving them more vulnerable to harm. Really?!?!
The researchers examined human fatality numbers for 92 storms that made landfall in the U.S. between 1950 and 2012, excluding Katrina from 2005 and Audrey from 1957 because together they account for 50 percent of all deaths from hurricanes in the U.S. since 1950.
They found that the more feminine the storm’s name in highly damaging storms, the more people it killed. They reported that when people imagined being in a male-named storm they predicted the storm would be more severe than it was for a female-named storm.
Atlantic hurricane names alternate between male and female, starting with Arthur this year, followed by Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly and 17 others. The list is recycled every six years. However, there are 78 names from severe storms like Katrina and Camille that have been permanently retired.