Study Claims Female Named Hurricanes Deadlier

Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Storm Science | Comments Off on Study Claims Female Named Hurricanes Deadlier

A New Study Says Female Named Hurricanes account for more fatalities compared to their male counterparts
According to a recent study, there may be a correlation between hurricane and tropical storm names and the number of lives they claim. 

Simply put, a hurricane is a hurricane. Heavy rains, devastating flooding and damaging winds in excess of 150 mph can bring any coastal community down to its knees. However, a new study by the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of USA indicates that intense hurricanes with female names are deadlier than their male counterparts due to deep-seated gender stereotypes.

Female Named Hurricanes Claim More Lives

In the June 2014 study, researchers examined historical data, dating back from 1950, of tropical storms and hurricanes that made landfall in the United States. By analyzing and comparing storm intensity, damage tolls and fatalities, it was found that female named hurricanes were much deadlier than their male counterparts.

To avoid skews in data, the study omitted the two largest outliers in Hurricanes Katrina and Audrey, which claimed a total of 2300 lives. Analysts determined that female named hurricanes claim an average of 42 lives while male named hurricanes claim average 15 deaths.

The study’s bottom line: people tend to perceive intense storms with more feminine names to be weaker. This presumption leads to advanced evacuation for masculine named storms while residents of coastal areas unwisely batten down the hatches and weather the femininely-named storm.

Deaths Blamed On Stereotypes?

Although gender names and death tallies may be a loose correlation, researchers still believe that the naming system may actually hindering storm preparedness by inadvertently cueing hidden biases about gender roles and characteristics. According to the study:

“Men are more likely than women to commit violent behaviors, and thus males are perceived to be more strongly associated than females with negative potencies such as violence and destruction.”

These societal generalizations have influenced how we feel about the severity of storms and affect how we prepare for them.

However the relationship between hurricane name and fatalities is not without its critics, of which is Columbia University Professor Benjamin Orlove. Because only a small number of storms account for most of the deaths, Orlove is critical of study’s historical analysis accuracy, adding “…no point in telling the National Hurricane Center to start calling all hurricanes Butch and Thor.”

What do you think about the new study? Would you be more apt to evacuate an area if a major storm was named Humphrey or Cynthia?