The Quandary of Nicole

What’s the Hurricane Center to do? There’s a strong system out in the Atlantic. If it were to pass over your house (or more appropriately in this case, your boat) it would seem like a tropical storm. Winds are around 40 mph, seas are high, the wind is pouring down.

It is not a tropical storm.

Tropical storms have certain characteristics which make them a special kind of animal. Without going into the minutiae of meteorology, Nicole doesn’t qualify.

So, what does the Hurricane Center do? They could say, “not my problem,” and let it be dealt with the way other mid-latitude storms are. Or, it can be named and treated like other named systems.

That’s exactly what the Hurricane Center chose to do, but there’s a problem. I guess it’s against some unspoken code to mislabel it, so Nicole become Subtropical Storm Nicole.

Subtropical is a word that isn’t recognized by my spellchecker… and for good reason. It’s obscure. And, to most people trying to figure out what’s going on, it’s confusing.

On TV, along with whatever else I explain, I have to stop and acknowledge this weird name.

You know, I’m not sure what I’d do if I was at the Hurricane Center. Maybe there’s really no good answer to this – but tropical or not, these storms need to be acknowledged.

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