Daily Archives: June 3, 2014

Do hurricane names have an impact on death toll?

Now for something completely different. According to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there seems to be a correlation between whether a hurricane is given a male or female name and how many people it kills.

The authors founds that even when they made allowances for the strength of a hurricane, those with female names would still tend to kill more people than those with male names. The authors conclude that this may be due to the fact that the public is be less vigilant when a female name is involved. Here is the money quote:

“In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave, this makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent.”

Of course, this could e a statistical aberration – although it is a very interesting theory. One way of testing it would be to look at other areas of the world, such Asia. Hong Kong has its fair share of typhoons (different name, same thing), so this might be a nice little project for a lucky academic with no summer duties. The Hong Kong Observatory has a very good website with lots of historical data and statistics.