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Female Hurricane Names Actually Deadlier Than Male Counterparts: Study

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 12:19 PM

Hurricanes with female names are historically more deadly than their male counterparts, but people often perceive the opposite, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois reviewed death tolls from 94 hurricanes in more than six decades from 1950 to 2012 and found that hurricanes with female names killed more people, USA Today reported. The researchers then put female- and male-named storms on a ratings scale.

What they found in their review — which was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — was that storms with more masculine-sounding names killed about 15 people on average, while a hurricane of the same strength with a female name killed about 42.

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The study also suggested that people might have different expectations of a storm's severity based on the gender of the name.

"People may be dying as a result of the femininity of a hurricane [name]," Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing at Illinois and a co-author of the study, told USA Today. "In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave. This makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent."

But Bill Read, a former director of the National Hurricane Center from 2008 to 2012, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he's not convinced that people judge storms by their names.

"While necessary to eke out the gender difference, it leaves me with the need to know is this factor significant, or is it very minor in the mix of all other societal and event driven responses," Read told the Plain Dealer.

Susan Cutter, director of the University of South Carolina's Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, told The Associated Press she found the study's conclusions to be more coincidental than any concrete analysis made for or against naming storms.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Atlantic-based hurricane names for 2014 are: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred.

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Hurricanes with female names are historically more deadly than their male counterparts, but people often perceive the opposite, according to a new study.
female, hurricane, names, violent
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2014-19-03
Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 12:19 PM
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