Baby Name Inspiration? Hurricanes

Are you ready for a meteorology lesson on baby names? Get out your pen and paper (or laptop or smart phone or whatever) and take some notes.

At the time of writing, there is a little over a month left of the hurricane season. The season runs from:

  • The beginning of June to the end of November in the Atlantic U.S. and
  • The middle of May to the end of November in the Pacific U.S.

This is good information for planning a vacation, but could this also be good information for picking a baby name?

Hurricane names are an eclectic lot, representing every generation. There is great-grandmother Helene (one of my readers submitted the story of her great-grandmother’s name Helen), grandfather Richard, moms, Amanda and Melissa, and children Olivia and Isaac. Some of these are great picks and others… not so much.

Take a look:

List the Hurricane Names

Atlantic Names

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Alberto

Beryl

Chris

Debby

Ernesto

Florence

Gordon

Helene

Isaac

Joyce

Kirk

Leslie

Michael

Nadine

Oscar

Patty

Rafael

Sandy

Tony

Valerie

William

Andrea

Barry

Chantal

Dorian

Erin

Fernand

Gabrielle

Humberto

Ingrid

Jerry

Karen

Lorenzo

Melissa

Nestor

Olga

Pablo

Rebekah

Sebastien

Tanya

Van

Wendy

Arthur

Bertha

Cristobal

Dolly

Edouard

Fay

Gonzalo

Hanna

Isaias

Josephine

Kyle

Laura

Marco

Nana

Omar

Paulette

Rene

Sally

Teddy

Vicky

Wilfred

Ana

Bill

Claudette

Danny

Erika

Fred

Grace

Henri

Ida

Joaquin

Kate

Larry

Mindy

Nicholas

Odette

Peter

Rose

Sam

Teresa

Victor

Wanda

Alex

Bonnie

Colin

Danielle

Earl

Fiona

Gaston

Hermine

Ian

Julia

Karl

Lisa

Matthew

Nicole

Otto

Paula

Richard

Shary

Tobias

Virginie

Walter

Arlene

Bret

Cindy

Don

Emily

Franklin

Gert

Harvey

Irma

Jose

Katia

Lee

Maria

Nate

Ophelia

Philippe

Rina

Sean

Tammy

Vince

Whitney

Eastern North Pacific Names

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Aletta

Bud

Carlotta

Daniel

Emilia

Fabio

Gilma

Hector

Ileana

John

Kristy

Lane

Miriam

Norman

Olivia

Paul

Rosa

Sergio

Tara

Vicente

Willa

Xavier

Yolanda

Zeke

Alvin

Barbara

Cosme

Dalila

Erick

Flossie

Gil

Henriette

Ivo

Juliette

Kiko

Lorena

Manuel

Narda

Octave

Priscilla

Raymond

Sonia

Tico

Velma

Wallis

Xina

York

Zelda

Amanda

Boris

Cristina

Douglas

Elida

Fausto

Genevieve

Hernan

Iselle

Julio

Karina

Lowell

Marie

Norbert

Odile

Polo

Rachel

Simon

Trudy

Vance

Winnie

Xavier

Yolanda

Zeke

Andres

Blanca

Carlos

Dolores

Enrique

Felicia

Guillermo

Hilda

Ignacio

Jimena

Kevin

Linda

Marty

Nora

Olaf

Patricia

Rick

Sandra

Terry

Vivian

Waldo

Xina

York

Zelda

Agatha

Blas

Celia

Darby

Estelle

Frank

Georgette

Howard

Isis

Javier

Kay

Lester

Madeline

Newton

Orlene

Paine

Roslyn

Seymour

Tina

Virgil

Winifred

Xavier

Yolanda

Zeke

Adrian

Beatriz

Calvin

Dora

Eugene

Fernanda

Greg

Hilary

Irwin

Jova

Kenneth

Lidia

Max

Norma

Otis

Pilar

Ramon

Selma

Todd

Veronica

Wiley

Xina

York

Zelda

Source: National Hurricane Center

Some of these names are on the upswing. For example, Zeke and Otto hit the top 1000 for the first time in decades, and show signs of staying there.

I base my conclusions on Zeke and Otto’s long-term potential on how they rank on BabyCenter, a large parenting and pregnancy site, which often predicts which names will go up on the Social Security list. Both names have been on BabyCenter’s top 1000 for a few years. Zeke has been there since 1995 (the earliest year data is available) and Otto since 2009.

Some fashion-forward names include Flossie, Ida, Isis, and Ophelia. There are a few obscure choices that might appeal like Aletta and Ivo. Wallis was one of our Failure to Launch names, which are names that never got as popular as they could have. Lastly, both of my kids’ names are on the list (Fiona and Paul).

Should I be nervous about my kids sharing names with Hurricanes? Is being named after a Hurricane a stigma? Should names on these lists be avoided?

If your child’s name is on this list, I wouldn’t worry.

First of all, most of these storms come and go with very little fanfare. In fact, these names are recycled every six years (2012 names will be reused in 2018), and notice how names near the end of the alphabet (Y & Z) are recycled every other year. The names at the end of the alphabet are less likely to even get used, unless the hurricane season is a particularly active one. Names are only removed from rotation when the storm is extremely deadly and high-profile. Notice that Katrina, Ike, and Irene are missing from the list.

Second of all, fashion cycles seem to have more impact on names than deadly storms. For example, hurricane Katrina hit in late August 2005. That year Katrina was already in decline after peaking at #90 in 1980. The storm may have even helped the name slightly. There was a small increase in babies named Katrina in 2005, but then there was a drop in 2006, and the name continued its decline. Last year Katrina left the top 1000.

The hurricane seems to have had little effect on Ike’s already low popularity. Hurricane Ike made landfall in early September 2008. The name has been outside the top 1000 since 1957. The year before hurricane Ike (2007), there were 55 newborn boys given the name. The year of the hurricane (2008), there was a slight increase to 73 boys named Ike, followed by a slight decrease to 69 boys named Ike the next year (2009).

As a baby name, Irene is an interesting case, because it could be due for a revival. The name was big in the early 20th century, peaking at #16 in 1918 and 1919. After its peak, Irene began a gradual decline and then an accelerate declined around World War II. Last year Irene ranked at #689, a slight increase from #696 the year before. Since the hurricane happened just last year, we will have to wait until the top 1000 baby names for 2012 come out in May to see if there has been a drop in babies named Irene.

Based on the findings for Katrina, and Ike, I predict there will be little change in Irene’s popularity for 2012. I can even see Irene making a slight comeback in a few years, but not returning to the top 20.

Also, as with any other potential stigma, authentic classics seem immune. For example, hurricane Andrew was a huge storm in 1992. Andrew ranked #5 that year, and dropped to #10 the following year, recovered slightly, and has been gradually declining since its peak in the late 1980s/ early 1990s. Andrew still ranked high last year at #16. This decline is too gradual to blame on the hurricane.

The conclusion is deadly storms may taint an unusual name for a short time, but the impact is negligible. Many of these would make great baby names, and I would use this list as inspiration, not as a list of names to avoid.

Readers: Which hurricane names are your favorites?

Comments

  1. For girls, I like Florence, Miriam, Vivian, Agatha
    For boys, I like Oscar, Dorian, Harvey, Xavier, Virgil, Adrian

    It’s a surprisingly good list, plenty to choose from for every naming style!

    • Yes, that’s what I noticed too, the names represent a number of different styles. I would have thought the names would all be Biblical or mythical.

  2. As you say, I love the eclecticism of the lists – there really is something for everyone.

    Girls I like: Florence, Ingrid, Dolly, Odette, Bonnie, Ophelia, Miriam, Zelda, Genevieve, Isis, Celia, Winifred.

    Boys I like: Oscar, Rafael, Dorian, Arthur, Wilfred, Otto, Tobias, Walter, Hector, Boris, Olaf, Javier, Calvin.

  3. AdrianBeatrizCalvinDoraEugeneFernandeeeeeeeeeeeehYaYaYaaaaaaeeeeeeh says:

    i like
    claudette
    odette
    mindy
    ingrid
    helene
    debby
    bonnie (so cute!!)
    aletta 🙂
    carlotta
    illeana
    so cuteeeeee!!!

    there are some weirdo ones like humberto gonzalo jova and the kind too lol
    lowell?!?!?!?!!?!? blasT OFF?

Trackbacks

  1. […] irrefutable, but consider that in 2002 there were only 21 boys named Iker, and the similar sounding Ike is still overlooked by most American parents. And consider that it meets all three signs of a fad […]

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