Karens of the World, Take Heart

We Coulda Been Irmas, Irenes ... or Igors!

Karens of the world take heart

We Karens have taken it on the chin in recent years, becoming a globally derided meme for racist, elitist, and generally nasty behavior. Well, now Karens of the world, take heart! It seems the only thing worse than being named Karen these days is having an ‘I’ name!

Here’s why:

As you know, hurricanes are named for people. The practice began in 1953. For more than two decades, the sexist practice was to use only the first names of women. However, that finally changed in 1979. Since then, male-female names are alternated.

What you may not know is that the World Meteorological Organization “retires” names associated with hurricanes that have caused significant loss of life or property. In all, 94 names have been removed from the list of possible hurricane names.

And here’s where we Karens can find solace: of that list of 94 names, 11 begin with the letter ‘I’ — more than any other letter! As the Washington Post put it, “‘I’ stands for infamous.”

Karens of the World, Take Heart

Here are those “infamous” ‘I’ names, listed by year: Ione ’55, Inez ’66, Iris ’01, Isidore ’02, Isabel ’03, Ivan ’04, Ike ’08, Igor ’10, Irene ’11, Ingrid ’13, Irma ’17.

There is a scientific reason so many terrible storms begin with the letter ‘I.’  The peak hurricane storm season usually begins mid-August and runs through September. That’s when warm ocean temperatures and the absence of disruptive high-altitude winds occur — prime conditions for hurricanes. It’s also when ‘I’ is reached on the alphabetical list.

As I see it, bad luck for the ‘I’s.

As a personal “historical” sidenote, according to Jewish tradition, I was supposed to be named after my recently deceased Uncle Irving. Which means I could have had an ‘I’ name.

I Coulda Been an Irene or an Ivanka!

But my mother rebelled. After following the tradition and naming my brothers for deceased relatives, she went wild and picked the “exotic” name Karen! So, I dodged the deadly ‘I’ hurricane bullet. Yet, as we know, decades later, I scored the mean meme bullseye. Thus, dodging, one name storm and into another!

Now you may wonder if there was there a Hurricane Karen. The answer is no. There was a Tropical Storm Karen in 2019, and the name Karen has been used for 17 tropical cyclones worldwide: six in the Atlantic Ocean, nine in the Western Pacific Ocean, one in the South-West Indian Ocean, and one in the Australian region.

So, dear fellow Karens, while we’ve caused some significant meteorological damage in our day, at least we haven’t measured up to the damage of a full-blown hurricane. And we haven’t suffered the shame of having our name retired. It may be small comfort, but these days of the mean Karen meme, let’s take comfort where we can!

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