In the meteorological community, hurricanes were given names in the mid 20th century. In an article earlier this year titled how hurricanes are named, “Names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms,” the World Meteorological Organization explains on its website. “Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.”
But there are times when storms are not named by official channels. A great example of this is a system that wasn’t classified as tropical or subtropical earlier last month that impacted the Cape Canaveral, Florida area. Interestingly enough, there was a rather large amount of twitter traffic that started to discuss why the storm should have a name and even started to use the hashtag with the name of #ReallyRina (the next storm name at that time – NOTE: another storm was officially named Rina weeks later but by that time, the unofficial hashtag for the unnamed storm wasn’t being used so there was no duplication of names)
So was the unnamed storm really named? It depend on who you talk to… but as “media” starts to become more connected with and to “social media”, we will no longer have significant unnamed events. Communities in the media and social media both have an interest in communicating the hazard and those communities will choose keywords and hashtags to self-regulate communication regarding the event. Just look at what happened with events like #turkeyquake #VAquake #MAsnow #snowmageddon #txfire #SFquake #snowtober… etc.
Social media may see this as just a good way to name events… But in fact what we are doing is the same thing that was done in the mid 20th century when we started to name tropical systems. It all comes back to the goal that we have in common – a good hashtag and a good name “heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness” and at the end of the day, that is what really matters.