1997 hurricane names were nothing to be alarmed about

Image courtesy of the National Hurricane Center.

The list of hurricane names for 1997 is out, and what a sorry list of names it is.

The A storm will be called Ana. I have a friend whose name is Anna, so I will not say anything bad about this name. But just between you, me and the fence post, I would never trust a storm named Ana, which is no reflection on the real Anna, who is entirely trustworthy. Well. Almost.

The B storm will be Bill. It will arrive collect-on-delivery. Ha ha. That’s my only “Bill” joke.

Next we have Claudette. Claudette is too exotic a name. I see French madams prowling the gas lit back alleys of the New Orleans French Quarter – a fearful image of you worry about diseases, not hurricanes.

Then there’s Danny. How could anybody run away from a Hurricane Danny? When I think of Danny, I think of a “Far Side” Irish setter, its tongue lolling, its eyes slightly crossed. Danny is too friendly a name for a hurricane.

For the E storm we have Erika. I like this name. I see a rigid Nordic disciplinarian, one who would deal a devastating blow to a city filled with Bills and Claudettes. Erika would teach them a thing or two.

The F storm will be named Fabian.

You’ve got to be kidding.

Fabian? Do you expect me to take a storm named Fabian seriously? Why not Frankie? Annette? Or, the Hurricane Formerly Known as Fabian?

The G name is excellent. Grace. It embodies an ironic contrast between the naturally violent nature of a tropical cyclone and the gentle, moral forthrightness of forgiveness. Or something like that.

Next we have Henri, pronounced ahn-REE, like the waiter who brings you a platter of snails and sneers at your non-gold Visa card and then slinks away for a rendezvous with Claudette. You can imagine this storm muttering, “I SPIT on your waterfront property” in a French accent.

The I storm will be Isabel, as in the queen of Spain who dispatched Columbus on his journey westward. Not a bad choice, especially if Isabel is a Cape Verde hurricane.

The next two storms are familiar refrains from 1985, Juan and Kate. Juan struck Pensacola. Kate struck Panama City. Hmmm. If there were a letter between J and K, we’d be in big trouble.

The L hurricane will be Larry. I sit in front of a Larry. As I write this, I can feel his eyes boring into the back of my neck, like laser beams. He edits this column, which is why you haven’t been seeing my curse words lately.

I think Larry is a great name.

Forgive me for chortling, but the M storm will be called Mindy. We have a Mindy who works here, but I think I could take her two falls out of three. Therefore, it’s only with a little trepidation that I say Mindy is a terrible name for a hurricane. Na-noo, Na-noo.

The N and O storms have names I don’t really care about, Nicholas and Odette. I think the hurricane center must be growing desperate. Odette? Sorry all you Odettes. I think this name is a 0.

The last name on the list is Peter. I don’t think Hurricane Peter is a good idea. To put it bluntly, I fear the pun potential is too enormous, and every scatologist in the nation will be jeering.

Who would want to be struck by Peter?

This column was published in the Wednesday, May 21, 1997 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .