Our fabulous hurricane-naming contest has come to a close. The judges have carefully waded through the many, many creative and imaginative entries. And after difficult overnight deliberations, they (or more precisely, I) have declared a winner.
But first a quick review. Each year the National Hurricane Center in Miami names the tropical storms that form in the Atlantic basin, using a list of 21 names. The names are drawn from the languages of the region, and alternate by gender. There are six lists at any one time, for use in the current, and upcoming five hurricane seasons. The lists are recycled every seven years. Names are retired and replaced when a storm by that name causes severe damage and deaths.
This year, for the first time ever, the NHC reached the 21st name on the list (Wilma). Following predetermined policy, it began to name subsequent storms after the letters of the Greek alphabet. We have so far had tropical storms Alpha and Beta.
That seemed to us to lack some imagination. So, in the spirit of the last storm on the primary list - Wilma - we asked WeatherBlog readers to submit a list of 21 storm names drawn from cartoons. We asked that they follow NHC rules and alternate genders and skip Q, U, X, Y and Z (although we offered extra credit if they could fill those slots).
Many readers who, like me, wasted way too much time in front of the TV as kids, responded with some terrific proposals. Unfortunately, Not everyone followed the rules. Others offered only one, or a few names. A reader named Laura Sue, who goes by the handle "The Silver Nightingale," suggested a place on the list for Joe Btfsplk, from Li'l Abner.
"Who could be more perfect," she said. "Since hurricanes usually have just one name, I suppose Btfsplk would be the designation. Wouldn't it be fun watching the broadcast media trying to pronounce that, especially the reporters out in the storm."
Well, speaking as a print reporter who has actually been out in the storm, I know they need no more headaches as they try to do their jobs. I also can say that print reporters wouldn't want to have to type Btfsplk very often, either.
But Laura Sue's suggestion brought to mind another character, Mr. Mxyzptlk, the bad boy from the old Superman comics I used to devour. As Laura Sue reminded me, he showed up from another dimension every 90 days to harrass Superman, and stayed until Superman could trick him into saying his name backwards - Kltpzyxm! What a great way to get rid of hurricanes! Maybe he could provide the NHC with TWO names. But then nobody would be able to pronounce either one of them.
Now we get to the contenders. Authors of these entries will receive MarylandWeather.com lip balm key rings, for those bitter cold days on the ski slopes, or clearing space in the snowbanks for the old kitchen chairs.
David Sullin, of Hanover, ignored the rules and submitted a list of Civil War generals and officers (and a President), reasoning that they "were involved in the destruction of the country, just like hurricanes." It was a clever list, but he skipped "I" and "V" names. If anybody wants to see it, email me.
June L. Czarnezki submitted a complete list of mostly evil-sounding names, such as Adolph, Hagar and Ivan. Many were cartoon names, but others included her sister and her piano teacher - "She was weird," June said.
Francesca Smith submitted a great list of cartoon characters, from Atomic Ant (a popular "A" name) to Wally (Wally Gator). But she slipped up on the alternating gender rule.
Which brings us to our runner-ups, each or whom will receive an official MarylandWeather.com rain pancho.
Mitch Hooper, of Ellicott City, had a fine list, also starting with Atom Ant and ending with Wally Gator. He included a couple of puppets that later made it into cartoons, such as Lambchop.
Bill Tamburrino, wins a MarylandWeather.com pancho for originality. He pretty much ignored the rules, too. But his approach was unique. His list of second-season names required that each name contain at least two of the required letter: Aaron, Babette, Cecil, Deidre, Eirene, Fifi, Gigi, Hannah, Idi, Jojo, Lirk, Lulu, Mame, Nana, Orlando, Pepe, Quoqui, Robert, Susan, Tatanya, Ursula, Vivien, Willow, Xiam Xu (he could have used Xerxes), Yoyo and Zsa Zsa.
J. Yap, of Florida wins the pancho in the Foodstuffs category. His name list contained only cheeses (several of which I will have to take his word on): Athersley, Brie, Cheddar, Dorset, Edam, Feta, Gouda, Havarti, Iberico, Jartsberg, Kernhem, Limburger, Mozzarella, Neufchatel, Orkney, Parmesan, Quark, Ricotta, Swiss, Trempherbe, Vincent and Wensleydale.
Annette Altland and her sister (whom she did not name) submitted two wonderful lists of comic Superheroes and Supervillains, both male and female, and therefore sufficient for two years of second-season names. Because they're comics, not cartoons, they fell short of the first prize. But it's pretty impressive anyway. (Being too old to have encountered many of these characters in my mis-spent youth, I rely again on my readers' honesty):
The women: Aurora, Belladonna, Callisto, Destiny, Elektra, Falcona, Gazelle, Hela, Icis, Jubilee, Karmilla, Lorelei, Mystique, Namora, Oracle, Phoenix, Rouge, Storm, Tarot, Vamp, Wasp, Xorn, Yellowjacket, Zaladane.
The men: Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Daredevil, Exodus, Firelord, Gambit, Hellstorm, Immortus, Juggernaut, Kro, Loki, Mentallo, Nightcrawler, Osiris, Punisher (great hurricane name), Quicksilver, Roughouse, Spiderman, Thing, Unicorn, Venom, Wolverine, X-Man, Yukio, Zaran.
And now, the winner: Aileen Kammer, of Cockeysville, who will receive a digital time and temperature alarm clock with a wireless outdoor unit that reports the outdoor temperature to the indoor unit. It's from The Sharper Image.
Aileen's list, as nearly as I could determine, followed all the rules, included Q, U, X, Y and Z names for extra credit, and included only one comic name that she believes may never have appeared in a cartoon. Here it is:
Atom Ant, Betty (Rubble), Captain Caveman, Daphne (from Scoobee Doo), Elmer (Fudd), Flora (from Sleeping Beauty), Goofy (can you imagine Hurricane Goofy?), Holli Would (from Cool World), Ichabod (Crane), Joie (and the Pussycats), Kenny (McCormick, from South Park), Lola Bunny (Baby Looney Toons), Magilla Gorilla, Nancy (and Sluggo), Oliver (& Company), Penelope (Pitstop), Quick Draw McGraw, Rita (The Galloping Ghost), Snagglepuss, Trixie (Speedracer), Underdog, Vixey (The Fox and the Hound), Wile E. Coyote, X-23 (Uncanny X-Men; this is her 'stretch'), Yogi Bear and Zelda (The Legend of Zelda).
Congratulations to all our winners. And thanks to everyone who entered.
Before we can mail out your prizes, I will need mailing addresses from Aileen, the Altland sisters, Bill Tamburr, J. Yap, Mitch Hooper, Francesca Smith and June Czarnezki. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org