ABC News’ Darren Rovell reports:
Hurricane Sandy has killed more than 100 people, leveled homes, uprooted lives, disrupted power and caused a gasoline panic.
The effects of the storm will last for months, and for some, years. And that could include the name “Sandy” itself.
Could you imagine anyone who has been affected by this storm naming their kid Sandy any time in the near future? In the past, some names have clearly been shunned as a result of being connected to a deadly event.
Since the National Hurricane Center has been attaching names to Atlantic tropical storms in 1953, no name has suffered worse than Katrina. The hurricane, which hit the Southeast United States in August of 2005, was associated with more than 1,800 deaths.
The year Katrina hit, the name was the 246th most popular girl’s baby name, according to the Social Security Administration.
Over the next five years, the name plummeted from No. 379 in 2006 to No. 865 in 2010. And by 2011, Katrina was no longer in the top 1,000 girl baby names in the United States. It marked the first time since 1961 that Katrina wasn’t on the list.
Other storm names which have had such destruction that they’ve been retired, are harder to specifically connect, sometimes because there names weren’t popular to begin with. Included in that list is Wilma, which was associated with more than 60 deaths in 2005. The mother Flintstone might have that name, but Wilma hadn’t been in the top 1000 baby names in the US since 1973.
And then there are some names that are just too popular and wind up weathering the storm.
Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992, didn’t dent the popularity of the name. It hasn’t been outside the top 20 in boys names since 1978.
So what’s the story with Sandy? Well, the name is already on the ropes. For girls, it was most popular in the early 1960s, but the name has faded until it disappeared from the top 1,000 girl names in 2006. It hasn’t been in the top 1.000 in boy names since 1981.
So while the popularity of Sandy might decline even further, the name has a shorter fall down the irrelevancy scale that Katrina had.
With storms already named for 2013, the most vulnerable name in the next year is Erin. Last year, the name Erin was the 233rd most popular girl’s name in the US, the lowest it had been since 1963 and having that name associated with a bad storm could hasten the name’s fall.