More storm names to be gender-neutral in future

More storm names to be gender-neutral in future

A giant wave crashing over Fenit Pier on the outskirts of Tralee, Co Kerry, during Storm Barra last year. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

More storm names will be “gender-neutral” in future, as the tradition of swapping between girls' and boys' names is old fashioned, Evelyn Cusack has said.

Met Éireann’s head of forecasting said the move is an attempt to modernise, and reflected changing attitudes towards gender in society.

“Hurricanes used to only have female names up until the late 1970s and have swapped between boys' and girls' names since then,” she said. 

But it’s just a convention — we’re not wedded to it.” 

Ms Cusack confirmed the move towards gender-neutral names was first suggested in June by the UK Met Office, and was supported by the Irish and Dutch offices.

She said choosing gender-neutral names was “more up to date”. Ms Cusack added: “It doesn't make any difference meteorologically.”

Evelyn Cusack of Met Éireann at the National Emergency Co-ordination Centre, Agriculture House, Kildare St, Dublin. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The European Storm Naming Group (ESNG) announced its list of names for the upcoming winter season last month, as voted by members of the public. It included three gender-neutral names: Sam, Val, and Elliot.

In an email to UK and Dutch colleagues at the end of the naming process, Evelyn Cusack suggested that the group could meet next April to formulate a more concrete plan, adding that she liked the idea of “gender-neutral names” in future.

Last year Ms Cusack objected to the name Toby being used, due to its connection to Roots: The Saga of an American Family, a book about slavery in America. 

She included a link to the Wikipedia page of Kunta Kinte, the story’s main character, in an email to colleagues when vetoing the suggestion. Ms Cusack also previously objected to her own name being used.

The final list of storm names, announced last month, is: Antoni, Betty, Cillian, Daisy, Elliot, Fleur, Glen, Hendrika, Íde, Johanna, Khalid, Loes, Mark, Nelly, Owain, Priya, Ruadhán, Sam, Tobias, Val, Wouter.

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