Regarding Meteorology

Did anyone feel that tremor earlier this afternoon? Apparently there was an earthquake in Virginia that was felt all the way up here. The scale of such an event kind of blows my mind…the rumbling I felt in my seat all the way up here on the 11th floor of a Toronto office building was caused by the same tectonic plate movement that caused them to evacuate the Pentagon. We are tiny, tiny insignificant specks on this world.

So I started wondering why they don’t name earthquakes like they name tropical storms…because I thought it was always pretty baller how they did that. That of course, then led to like an hour of Wikipedia research, which is pretty par for the course for a usual work day in the life of Choking Yak. Turns out tropical storms are named per World Meteorological Organization policy because it’s just easier to keep track of the frequent and potentially simultaneous systems in each part of the world. Earthquakes on the other hand, are not really long term events and happen relatively infrequently such that referring them by location is sufficient.

But did you know that they retire tropical storm names if they are deemed to be major human disasters? So there is like a Hall of Fame for tropical storms if they kill enough people; their names can never be used again to name other storm systems, like having their numbers hung from the rafters and retired from use by future storms. That is so cool! And there’s even this bullshit nomenclature for naming them…like big storms are called “hurricanes” only if they pop up in the Atlantic or in the northeast Pacific. Northwest Pacific storms are called “typhoons,” and they’re called “cyclones” everywhere else. And all this time I thought there were like actual mechanical or scientific differences between hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones. Turns out they’re all the same and just come from different places.

Obviously then, the next logical thought is to wonder if anyone has had their tropical storm name retired, and if not, who has the most baller tropical storm name.

The greatest storm to any of our names is (obviously) Cyclone William, who fucked up the south Pacific in ’94 so bad they had to retire the name. That’s right…there will never be another Cyclone William in the south Pacific ever again. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about when Cyclone William hit Polynesia…

Within the Cook Islands, William destroyed a causeway to a tourist resort on Aitutaki, and caused damage to houses, crops and coconut trees with the total cost estimated at US$ 2.5 million. William injured two people and destroyed over 150 houses in French Polynesia, where local leaders accused Météo-France off underestimating Williams intensity.

That’s right, two people hurt and a shitload of houses destroyed. Let no one underestimate William’s intensity ever again.

Two tropical storms have been named Gary. Typhoon Gary in 1992 hit southern China, killing 48 and causing $940 million in losses. Furthermore, typhoon warnings caused the Hong Kong stock exchange and banks to close, costing the economy an additional $200 million in lost income. However Typhoon Gary never actually reached Hong Kong in 1992, and they paid the price for overhyping its intensity. Another Typhoon Gary returned to Hong Kong again in 1995, and created a similar scare. However Typhoon Gary never met its hype in 1995 either, never reaching land, and lasting only two days at the end of July before leaving like a sad old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone. The real storm came a week later, as Typhoon Helen ravaged southern China, causing landslides and mass flooding that killed 23. Scientists also later noted that both the 1992 and 1995 Typhoon Garys were extremely homosexual.

Another noteworthy storm was Typhoon Brian in 1989 that killed 31 people in China and caused massive damage to rice crops and probably tens of millions of dollars in damage and disruption. However, because Pacific typhoons were previously labeled by the Japanese Meteorological Agency prior to 2000 (those crazy Japs used numbers back then, NUMBERS), the tropical storms named Brian and Gary today were actually retroactively named by the post-merger meterological conglomerate with the WMO and neither were actually retired. Some might argue that all three typhoons deserve retirement over Cyclone William, but you can argue the validity of the voting system and the level of competition in the JMA region until you’re blue in the face…it won’t change a thing. Fans arguing about who gets into the Hall of Fame is a concept as old as the concept of the Hall of Fame itself. (This probably also speaks to the fact that the JMA probably doesn’t count Chinese deaths as significant human disasters. Fuck them, NANKING FOREVER!)

Fact is, Cyclone William beats Typhoon Brian and both Typhoon Garys. Deal with it.

10 tropical storms worldwide have been named Alex, the most out of any name here. True to their namesake, none of them have been retired or otherwise affected human beings in any significant way.

Hurricane Greg was born on August 17th of this year and it’s most remarkable achievement was to bring some cloudy weather to Southern California. The next five 2011 northeast Pacific storm systems will be named Hilary, Irwin, Jova, Kenneth, and Lidia. At this rate, there exists a chance that Tropical Storm Max will hit somewhere in the northeast Pacific in the middle of November. The previous five systems that have been named Tropical Storm Max were otherwise unremarkable.

No tropical storm has ever or will ever be named Jess or Jessica, probably because it is kind of a lame name.

In 2012, the 21st north Atlantic tropical storm will be named William. I am hoping for nothing short of WMO retirement in the Atlantic region. You cannot imagine how excited I am for this – two W-storms retired in two separate divisions? Remember this post when I am screaming at the Weather Network on my television next December. But considering that the Atlantic was boosted last year by La Niña and still managed only 19 named storms (which tied for third most in Atlantic hurricane season history), seeing Hurricane William hanging from the rafters is an enormous longshot. This is something I have to consider when naming future possible children – if I want them to grow up to have awesome tropical storm names, I’ll need to name them something in the A to G range. The fact that there was a Cyclone William in 1994 at all was a minor miracle.

…unless you are Polynesian, in which case you probably wouldn’t describe it that way.

The bitch is hungry
She needs to tell
So give her inches
And feed her well



Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.



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