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Invest 92L Retired From List of Tropical Disturbances

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 12:46 PM GMT on April 01, 2015

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced a surprise addition to the list of retired Atlantic storm names during their annual meeting held in Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday: henceforth, the name "Invest 92L" will no longer be used for tropical disturbances in the Atlantic, after that storm savaged South Florida in September 2014. Damage from Invest 92L as it swept across South Florida on September 11, 2014 was piddly, but as residents of Florida can attest to, the media hype surrounding the approach of the storm was extreme, thanks to computer model projections that showed the storm potentially intensifying into a serious heavy rainfall and wind event. Given the massive media attention given to the storm, the WMO decided that it would be unwise to give future tropical disturbances the same name, to avoid confusion with the September 2014 version of "Invest 92L".

Figure 1. Invest 92L swirls over Florida at 12:30 pm EDT Friday September 12, 2014. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 2. Damage from Invest 92L's rampage across South Florida on September 10, 2014, was mind-numbing, as this photo demonstrates. Image credit: wunderground member Ameister12. Credit also goes to wunderground member MAWeatherboy1 for commenting on this photo in my September 12, 2014 blog post, saying, "It's hard to imagine the scope of the damage in Florida this morning. 92L will probably get retired from the invest list for this."

With the name "Invest 92L" now excluded from the list of tropical disturbance names that NHC can use, they were in the awkward position of having to jump from Invest 91L to Invest 93L, skipping over the name Invest 92L, during this year's hurricane season. In addition, the WMO could decide to retire more "Invest" names in the future, so NHC decided to come up with a radically new system for naming tropical disturbances. NHC director Dr. Rick Blabb announced yesterday that the list of tropical disturbances for 2015 would completely do away with the numbering system used in the past and be replaced by more memorable names. Here, then, is the list of names for Atlantic tropical disturbances in 2015:

Dr. Evil
Ralph the Wunder Llama
Mr. Bill
Little Rascal
HAL 9000
Stay Puft Marshallow Man
Miss Piggy
The Borg
Sponge Bob
Ms. Pac-Man
Bob Dobbs
Mr. Mxyzptlk
Anne of Green Gables

In a press release, Dr. Blabb extolled the virtues of the new system of naming tropical disturbances: "It used to be that we called tropical disturbances "Invests" and numbered them beginning at 90 and ending at 99, and then recycled the name back to 90 after we hit 99. This really doesn't make much sense. I mean, come on, why didn't we give each start a unique number, like 1 through 99? And why do we give each tropical disturbance the letter "L" after it, to denote the "atLantic Ocean?" OK, the letter "A" is reserved for tropical disturbances in the Arabian Sea, but the Atlantic is far more deserving of getting the coveted letter "A" for its tropical disturbances, since we get far more activity than the Arabian Sea. And why do we call them "Invests", like they were code for some sort of obscure financial strategy? Instead of "Invests", we could call them "Tropical Disturbances", but that has the initials "TD", which could get them confused with Tropical Depressions. Calling them "Areas of Interest" is way too boring, so we decided to call them "Thingamabobbers." Numbers aren't very memorable, so it makes much more sense to attach names to our Thingamabobbers. The names we picked this year are not fixed in a certain order, so we can assign a name when a Thingamabobber gets designated, based on what we expect the storm's character to be. For example, if we expect a Thingamabobber to make many course changes we might name it "Thingamabobber Pac-Man" or "Thingamabobber Ms. Pac-Man." A storm with a lot of electrical activity we might call Pikachu, and a fast-moving storm might be called Zippy. A Thingamabobber that has the strong potential to become a nasty hurricane would get a name like Sauron, Bellatrix, or Cruella, and a relatively innocuous one might get named Little Rascal, Pipsqueak, or Sponge Bob. Although we might get some criticism for our choice of names, it sure makes a lot more sense than the ridiculous Invest 90L through 99L naming scheme that we use now."

Happy April Fool's Day!

Jeff Masters

Humor Hurricane

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.