The Personification of Hurricanes

Why do we personify hurricanes?  We give them human names. We use anthropomorphic words to describe them.  As I hunker down with my family, battening down the hatches, waiting for the anticipated storm to arrive, hearing the television reporters describe "Hurricane Irene's stubborn determination" or the "wrathful waves and angry winds," I can't help but ponder how we place such human attributes on a force of nature.

We don't name other natural disasters, like earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis.  Granted, those are more fleeting, although the devastation they cause can endure for a long time.  Hurricanes last longer and meteorologists track them from the moment they form in the middle of the ocean, following their destructive path until they strike land and eventually weaken and disappear.  Their "life cycle" is more apparent. 

Other long-lasting "acts of Mother Nature" are not given names, however, such as blizzards or wild fires.  Hurricanes look intimidating, moving in a furious swirl, hundreds of miles wide, with an "eye" in the center, like the evil Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, viewable from space.

As I hear my friends hurl insults at Hurricane Irene, as if "she" were a real person purposefully causing all this inconvenience and potential danger, disrupting our lives, I am reminded of our ancestors who saw lightning and thunder as the result of gods battling in the heavens, or storms at sea as the result of Poseidon's fury.  It's a testament to the raw power of hurricanes that such personification continues in our modern times.

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