The Great Media Debate: How to Refer to Hurricane Sandy.
Image via National Hurricane Center
As you can see from the latest projections above, Hurricane Sandy looks ever more likely to impact the northeast, and so there is a great debate going on among the ever-serious practitioners of journalism on this fine Thursday: what cutsie name should we give the storm? This is, no joke, an actual conversation happening on the sillier portions of the internet, because the storm remains far away, and there exists, for some reason, an annual tradition (beginning last year, so not really a tradition) of creating an adorable portmanteau for storms that attack the east coast on Halloween. Last year, the media did battle about the merits of “Snoctober” and “Snowtober.” (Snowtober won.) This year, Sandy gives us half a dozen extra elements we need to incorporate into the name: the storm threatens to hit the east coast and mix with an inland snowstorm while also transitioning into a Nor’easter while also dumping snow on higher altitude areas, all on Halloween. So here are some of the candidates:
Adherents: Gawker’s Caity Weaver, who writes, “Because it would be a combination snowstorm + hurricane, the proper name for this storm is “snowcane,” but, as there is no time to learn new words in the midst of a crisis, you should refer to it as a ‘snowcone.’”
Merits: It’s cute, but probably too cute, especially if the storm actually causes significant damage or loss of life. (Actually, this whole thing is going to be pretty embarrassing for everyone involved if that’s the case.) We don’t want to tempt this thing. Moving on.
Adherents: The Boston Herald‘s Joe Dwinell reports, “This monster is being called the ‘Frankenstorm’” He doesn’t cite his source, but let’s assume that he heard someone somewhere call it a Frankenstorm.
Merits: This name does give the impression that there is a storm, and Frankenstein sort of evokes Halloween. But it doesn’t really get at the Nor’easter or the snow (probably because it’s really only supposed to snow further south) or the hurricane. It also sort of implies that the storm is man-made, like Frankenstein’s monster. Herald, we expect better bad puns from you.
Adherents: Daily Intel’s Dan Amira, while conflicted about what to call the storm, notes: “It’s worse than a storm known to history as the Perfect Storm. Because it’s not just a storm, it’s a snowicane. A Perfect Snowicane, Hurricarnage, or whatever portmanteau we collectively settle on eventually.”
Merits: This gets at the snow and the hurricane. It leaves out the Nor’Easter and Halloween. Still, we’re getting there.
Portmanteauing in itself is wondrous, and this form is a thing of beauty, combining “snow” with “nor’easter” with “hurricane.” When you take all of those things apart and look at them one by one, perhaps it’s daunting—if you are the fearful type, even terrifying. But together there’s a beautiful sibilance combined with a certain adorableness.
Merits: As Doll notes, this fits a lot of the right stuff into a very fun-sounding word. It’s definitely our favorite.
Adherents: Most rational news organizations.
Merits: This is the storm’s actual name.
Yeah, we’re gonna have to call “Sandy” the winner here, but feel free to sound off in the comments. Or, we don’t know, buy flashlights and bottled water.