According to a new study from the University of Illinois and Arizona State University, hurricanes with female names have a much higher death rate than their male-named counterparts. Hurricane Katrina (shown above) killed almost 2,000 people in 2005, making it the most deadly storm since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. But, could the death rate have been lowered with a more ominous name?
To conduct the study, the researchers used archival data on actual fatalities caused by hurricanes in the United States (1950–2012), as well as information gathered from blind surveys from the public. The results are pretty astounding! The researchers’ model suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll! And the reason why… well, in the surveys, participants rated female-named hurricanes as having less perceived risk and intensity than male-named hurricanes. In addition, the need to evacuate was much less.
The study concludes that “the practice [of naming hurricanes] taps into well-developed and widely held gender stereotypes, with potentially deadly consequences.”
So, what should we call the hurricanes instead? How about… “Death From Above…” “Murdertron 4000?”
Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below!