Met Office probes link between storms with female names and higher death toll

Storms could be given men’s names in the future as the Met Office investigates a potential link between female named storms and a higher death toll.

A study by the University of Illinois found the more feminine sounding a storm’s name, the more people it killed, as the threat was viewed as lower and less precautions were taken.

And despite criticism suggesting the results of the study were a coincidence researchers at the UK’s national weather service have launched an investigation.

An amber weather warning was issued for Storm Doris in February 2017. A total of four deaths were recorded as caused by the storm

An amber weather warning was issued for Storm Doris in February 2017. A total of four deaths were recorded as caused by the storm

An amber weather warning was issued for Storm Doris in February 2017. A total of four deaths were recorded as caused by the storm

The study examined six decades of hurricane death rates between 1950 and 2012 and linked it to gender. 

The Met Office have been told to examine ‘the potential difference in public perception and response’ to male and female named storms, according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph.

But a spokesman told MailOnline they had found no link between the gender of a storms name and the number of casualties. 

The 2014 study found people are more likely to stay indoors and take more precautions if the storm has a male name. 

Red weather warnings were seen in the UK for the first time and four people died as a result of Storm Emma in March 2018. Pictured, a car covered in snow in Alexandria, Scotland

Red weather warnings were seen in the UK for the first time and four people died as a result of Storm Emma in March 2018. Pictured, a car covered in snow in Alexandria, Scotland

Red weather warnings were seen in the UK for the first time and four people died as a result of Storm Emma in March 2018. Pictured, a car covered in snow in Alexandria, Scotland

A family dodge a wave as heavy winds produce waves on Blackpool seafront as Storm Frank hit the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015 in Blackpool, England. The Met Office issued yellow warnings as Storm Frank brought heavy rain and gale force winds to the North of England and Scotland. A total of three deaths were reported

A family dodge a wave as heavy winds produce waves on Blackpool seafront as Storm Frank hit the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015 in Blackpool, England. The Met Office issued yellow warnings as Storm Frank brought heavy rain and gale force winds to the North of England and Scotland. A total of three deaths were reported

A family dodge a wave as heavy winds produce waves on Blackpool seafront as Storm Frank hit the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015 in Blackpool, England. The Met Office issued yellow warnings as Storm Frank brought heavy rain and gale force winds to the North of England and Scotland. A total of three deaths were reported

Its co-author said the results prove there is an ‘implicit sexism’ in how people approach the name of storms.

Sharon Shavitt, study co-author and professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, told the Washington Post: ‘People imagining a “female” hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter.

‘The stereotypes that underlie these judgements are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women – they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.’

At a meeting last year between the Met Office, the Environment Agency, the police and Highways England concerns about the potential impact of storm names were first raised. 

Officials discussed the possibility of a ‘detectable difference in how seriously people view storms according to whether they have a male or female name’.  

Members of the public look on as Storm Erik makes landfall with winds of up to 70mph in some areas of the UK along with heavy rain on February 8, 2019 in Prestwick, Scotland. The Met Office issued two yellow be aware warnings for strong winds and three people died

Members of the public look on as Storm Erik makes landfall with winds of up to 70mph in some areas of the UK along with heavy rain on February 8, 2019 in Prestwick, Scotland. The Met Office issued two yellow be aware warnings for strong winds and three people died

Members of the public look on as Storm Erik makes landfall with winds of up to 70mph in some areas of the UK along with heavy rain on February 8, 2019 in Prestwick, Scotland. The Met Office issued two yellow be aware warnings for strong winds and three people died

Grahame Madge, spokesman for the Met Office, told MailOnline: ‘There’s no evidence to suggest there is any difference in the public response to male or female names. 

What are the names of Britain’s worst storms and how many people died?

Desmond (December 3, 2015): three

Frank (December 31, 2015): three 

Doris (February 23, 2018): four 

Emma (March 1, 2018): four 

Ophelia (October 16, 2018): three 

Erik (February 2019): three  

‘The American study was information we would not concur with. We are positive about storm labelling.  

‘We know it is well reported and people know when there is a named storm they need to take note. 

‘There is no difference in response between male and female named storms.’ 

Hurricanes have been named in America since the 1950s but used to have solely feminine names before 1979.

The study found of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produces an average of 45 deaths compares to 23 male-named storm deaths.

Its findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found changing a storm’s name from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll. 

Snow cleared at Leeds Bradford Airport in Yorkshire as storm Emma rolled in from the Atlantic and met the Beast from the East's chilly Russia air, causing further widespread snowfall and bitter temperatures

Snow cleared at Leeds Bradford Airport in Yorkshire as storm Emma rolled in from the Atlantic and met the Beast from the East's chilly Russia air, causing further widespread snowfall and bitter temperatures

Snow cleared at Leeds Bradford Airport in Yorkshire as storm Emma rolled in from the Atlantic and met the Beast from the East’s chilly Russia air, causing further widespread snowfall and bitter temperatures

Storm Erik on February 8, 2019 in Troon, Scotland. The Met Office were told to examine 'the potential difference in public perception and response' to male and female named storms, according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph

Storm Erik on February 8, 2019 in Troon, Scotland. The Met Office were told to examine 'the potential difference in public perception and response' to male and female named storms, according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph

Storm Erik on February 8, 2019 in Troon, Scotland. The Met Office were told to examine ‘the potential difference in public perception and response’ to male and female named storms, according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph

Storm Frank battered the North-east region with wind gusts topping 56mph. The high winds brought down trees. A woman was trapped after a tree was blown onto her car near Ormesby Bank in Middlesbrough

Storm Frank battered the North-east region with wind gusts topping 56mph. The high winds brought down trees. A woman was trapped after a tree was blown onto her car near Ormesby Bank in Middlesbrough

Storm Frank battered the North-east region with wind gusts topping 56mph. The high winds brought down trees. A woman was trapped after a tree was blown onto her car near Ormesby Bank in Middlesbrough

In Britain it is not confirmed whether gender has any impact.

The two deadliest storms, Storm Emma and Storm Doris, were both linked to four deaths.

But overall figures show ‘masculine’ storms were linked to 16 deaths – two more than ‘feminine’ storms.

A wind surfer jumps in the air after hitting a wave in the rough seas off of Bracklesham Bay in West Sussex, as Storm Erik brought strong winds to parts of the country

A wind surfer jumps in the air after hitting a wave in the rough seas off of Bracklesham Bay in West Sussex, as Storm Erik brought strong winds to parts of the country

A wind surfer jumps in the air after hitting a wave in the rough seas off of Bracklesham Bay in West Sussex, as Storm Erik brought strong winds to parts of the country

A Met Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The name of a storm is just one of many non-weather factors which need to be considered when understanding how people make decisions when dangerous storms threaten.

British storms were first named in 2015 to help people understand the potential impact of a deadly storm before it hit.  

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