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Are storms with female names less daunting to Long Islanders?

The projected path of Hurricane Arthur, as of

The projected path of Hurricane Arthur, as of July 3, 2014. (Credit: National Hurricane Center)

On Tuesday we greeted Arthur, the first named storm in this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Arthur is now a hurricane and humming away off the coast of the Carolinas, oblivious to the recent gender-stereotype controversy over hurricane monikers and whether on some level people expect storms with female names to be less threatening than those with male names.

Such a perception could result in the feminine-named storms being deadlier, as people take fewer precautions, said researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.


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Adelphi University’s Meghan McPherson sees things differently. The real driver for launching into action and getting prepared, she says, is related to what people see in media reports as to a storm’s strength and track. That and what they’ve witnessed previously, both firsthand and in the news.

Those “external factors are much more persuasive” than names, says McPherson, program manager of Adelphi’s emergency management graduate programs.

Taking a purely unscientific look at the boy/girl named storm mix on Long Island, we see that 12 named tropical cyclones -- seven with male names -- have come during hurricane season within a 100-mile radius of the Island’s center, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s since 1979 when hurricane naming became equal opportunity for both genders. (Excluded is the monstrous Sandy, which came on shore about 175 miles away, still wreaking havoc widely.)

Of the 12, the male-named storms resulted in 83 U.S. deaths, with Floyd claiming the most -- 56, according to National Hurricane Center data. Female-named storms resulted in 56 U.S. deaths, with Irene responsible for 41.

Ranked by strongest to weakest wind speeds as they swept through or near Long Island were:

Bob, 1991
Gloria, 1985
Irene, 2011
Bertha, 1996
Floyd, 1999
Hanna, 2008
Barry, 2007
Charley, 2004
Henri, 1985
Gordon, 2000
Chris, 1988
Beryl, 1994

Tags: Long Island , Arthur , hurricane , season , towns

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