Femme fatale! Met Office probes link between storms with women’s names and higher death tolls

Storms could be given men’s names in the future as the Met Office investigates a potential link between female named storms and a higher death toll.

A study by the University of Illinois found the more feminine sounding a storm’s name, the more people it killed, as the threat was viewed as lower and less precautions were taken.

And despite criticism suggesting the results of the study were a coincidence researchers at the UK’s national weather service have launched an investigation.

The study examined six decades of hurricane death rates between 1950 and 2012 and linked it to gender. 


An amber weather warning was issued for Storm Doris in February 2017. A total of four deaths were recorded as caused by the storm

The Met Office have been told to examine ‘the potential difference in public perception and response’ to male and female named storms, according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph.

The 2014 study found people are more likely to stay indoors and take more precautions if the storm has a male name. 

Red weather warnings were seen in the UK for the first time and four people died as a result of Storm Emma in March 2018. Pictured, a car covered in snow in Alexandria, Scotland

Officials discussed the possibility of a ‘detectable difference in how seriously people view storms according to whether they have a male or female name’. 

Hurricanes have been named in America since the 1950s but used to have solely feminine names before 1979.

The study found of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produces an average of 45 deaths compares to 23 male-named storm deaths.

Its findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found changing a storm’s name from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll. 

In Britain it is not confirmed whether gender has any impact.

The two deadliest storms, Storm Emma and Storm Doris, were both linked to four deaths.

But overall figures show ‘masculine’ storms were linked to 16 deaths – two more than ‘feminine’ storms.

A Met Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The name of a storm is just one of many non-weather factors which need to be considered when understanding how people make decisions when dangerous storms threaten.

British storms were first named in 2015 to help people understand the potential impact of a deadly storm before it hit.  

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