Hurricanes need Southern names

May 26, 2021


The World Meteorological Association has announced a list of names for this year’s storms. When we ran out of names last year, they supplemented with Greek letters like Eta and Iota. This year, they’ve decided to go ahead and create a second list of regular names — like the JV squad. 

Since most hurricanes blast the Southern states, we should get first dibs on naming rights. Go ahead and use one name monikers on the first list, but when you start afresh, the storms should logically have double names. Two names alert us to the second half of the season as well as lending a more charming feel. Hurricane Camille was a terror, but if she’d been Camille Elizabeth, or “Cammie Beth” maybe she would have been a gentle sweetheart.

My family used both of my names as a child, but an unfortunate incident I can’t discuss led me to drop my second name in middle school. In college, there was already another Leslie in my sorority, so I pulled out the Alabama tool box and reattached the “Anne.”  That’s when my New Jersey husband met me and was charmed by many things (wink-wink), including the double first name, so he kept me along with both names.

Southern families have ways of honoring those who came before by taking grandmother Leona’s name and squeezing out Lena Lou, Lona Ruth, Leigh Ellen and Leonetta. At the table with Grandpa Billy, you’ll see cousins Bill David, William, Willy Ray and niece Willow Mae. It’s all about connections. 

Oddly enough, the Meteorological Association doesn’t even try to use the letters Q, U, X, Y or Z. They obviously haven’t met my friends Ursula Jane and Uma Rose.  I also know a lovely Queta. And who hasn’t heard of our darling ZeIda from Montgomery?  

Our double names tell people exactly who we are and how we’re all linked together. Mary Hampton, Mary Evelyn, Mary Cameron, Mary Katherine, Mary Margaret and Mary Celeste are all real ladies I know, young and old, who are loaded with family names and history from the day they were born. They never sign a document without “their people” being right there with them. They are often heard reciting the Southern lady phrase, “Yes, I go by both” which translates into, “no, you may not shorten it.”  

Rethinking the hurricane naming system to better fit our battered Southern communities is a no-brainer. How could a storm named Twila Grace or John David cause trouble? They are loaded with double the charisma, double the personality and enough charm to calm an angry storm. 

This story first appeared on

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