A New Weather Name, Awfully Late In The Game

Until a month ago, when severe thunderstorms and strong wind gusts devastated electric power service to most of Columbus, I’d never heard of a “derecho.”

It turns out that a derecho is a line of thunderstorms that produces widespread, damaging “straight line” winds.  Today, when another black, gusty thunderstorm cell rolled through town, people were talking about derechos again.  (Whether Columbusites are pronouncing the word correctly is another question.)

Isn’t it kind of late in human history to be coming up with new names for weather?  I’ve lived in the Midwest for most of my life, and severe thunderstorms are not uncommon during the summer months.  Until now, they’ve just been called severe thunderstorms, which seems like a more than adequate descriptive phrase.  Why not stick with that, rather than coming up with an unpronounceable, unknown term?

And while we’re at it, why do new weather systems always get Spanish-sounding names?  First El Nino, then La Nina, now derecho.  It sounds like the name of John Wayne’s ranch in The Sons of Katie Elder, or perhaps the moniker for a new Taco Bell faux Mexican concoction.  A derecho probably would involve browned meat, smoked bacon, Velveeta cheese, habanero sauce, and ranch dressing, sprinkled with crushed Doritos and wrapped in a soft taco shell.

No doubt some college student would drive hundreds of miles, through countless severe thunderstorm cells, to give it a try.

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