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On Being the Eye of the Storm

August 25, 2020 laurawattenberg 6 Comments

On Being the Eye of the Storm

August 25, 2020 LauraWattenberg 6 Comments

Hurricanes have human names, and so I write about them. Over the past 15 years I’ve written about various storms and the baby name trends that followed. But now, for the first time, I truly understand the emotional impact of sharing a name with a storm. Hurricane Laura—Hurricane Me—is on its way to the Gulf Coast, and it feels weirder than I ever imagined.

Friends on Facebook post “We’re watching Laura nervously.” Headlines scream “All Eyes on Laura,” “Laura Lashes Southwest Florida,” and “Laura: Danger Level Rising.” It’s impossible not to snap to attention when you hear your name spoken, or see an image like this flash on the screen.

When I read tragic headlines like “Laura Kills Several in Haiti,” I even feel an absurd stab of guilt. It’s on a level immune to logic, a deep emotional identification with the word Laura that has been reinforced literally every day of my life.

Professionally, I appreciate the experience. I expect to feel a new kind of empathy with people who find their names “stolen” by a celebrity, or even by a product like Amazon’s Alexa. And to my mind, empathy is essential to talking about names. It’s what drives my name-positive philosophy, and what lets me write useful guides to name styles that may not match my personal taste.

But personally, it’s unnerving. Laura is coming, and destruction will follow. To everyone in the storm’s path, best of luck—and my apologies.


Namerology founder and "Baby Name Wizard" author Laura Wattenberg is a globally recognized name expert, known for her scientific approach to understanding name trends and culture.

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  • Kelly
    Kelly August 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Since Laura is a pretty common name should the storm be really bad it’ll probably be more like (for example) Andrew than Katrina in terms of what people will think of in the future about the name (for some consolation about sharing your name with a hurricane).

  • Jamie August 25, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    This is why it’s always made me a little uncomfortable that we give hurricanes human names.

    I read a quote once (forget where) in which someone suggested that we give names to spells of nice weather, to redress the balance. “What did you do during Pretty Week Jennifer? We went on a picnic!”

  • TheOtherHungarian
    TheOtherHungarian August 25, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    It just means you’re now officially a Force of Nature (TM), Laura. 😀

    • LauraWattenberg
      LauraWattenberg August 26, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      With great power comes great responsibility! I pledge to name wisely.

  • L. August 26, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    I thought Harvey would be ruined by Hurricane Harvey, but turns out that hurricane’s legacy was totally overshadowed by Weinstein. It’s the pits to share a name with a natural disaster, but at least Laura is an enduring, ever-present name that will not automatically be associated with the storm.

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