Tropical Storm Emily surprised Florida without much warning ~ above Monday, July 31, 2017. By  the Tuesday, Emily had actually been downgraded indigenous a “tropical storm” come a “depression,” which supposed it was time for web jokes around Emily and her feelings.

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Although the civilization Meteorological Organization now names hurricanes ~ men and also women, storm name weren’t constantly so equally divided by gender. From roughly 1953 come 1979, U.S. Hurricanes and also tropical storms were in reality only named after women.


Intense waves during Tropical Storm Emily close to the Sunshine Skyway leg in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Credit: Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay time via AP)

For at the very least 150 years, storm names to be “fraught with racism and sexism, an individual preferences and also vendettas,” reports Atlas Obscura. “heir surname have additionally been obtained from places and saints, wives and girlfriends, and disliked public figures.”

Although there to be plenty of precedent for specify name storms after both women and men, the U.S. Decided in the early 1950s to work out on a system that only offered female names. It’s not completely clear why, however the maritime heritage of referring to the s as a mrs may have played a factor.

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Roxcy Bolton, Florida’s top women’s rights activist, through Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1956. (Credit: State Archives of Florida)

One of these dissenters to be a Roxcy Bolton, the Florida feminist “credited with starting the nation’s first rape treatment center and who helped persuade national weather forecasters not to surname tropical storms after just women,” according to her New York Times obituary (Bolton passed away earlier in might 2017). “Women, Ms. Bolton said at the time, ‘deeply resent being arbitrarily associated with disaster.’”

Campaigns by Bolton and also other females eventually convinced the U.S. To begin using male names again in 1979, but it didn’t take place without a fight. Some said that male-named hurricanes wouldn’t be together feared as ones v female names—which is actually the the opposite of how people react come hurricane name today, a 2016 examine found.

But old behavior die hard. Even years after ~ U.S. Stopped providing storms solely female names, a Washington Post editorial lamented in 1986 the “many the the male names don’t convey one of two people the romantic or the urgency the circumstances might warrant.” and also in Bolton’s NYT obituary, the male writer still defined her—in the very very first line—as a “tempestuous Florida feminist.”