Have you ever wondered how names stick? What inspired the first person to attach a name to something? More curious, how was it he or she got everyone else to buy into the naming?
The other day I read up on the Alberta Clipper weather system that usually starts in Alberta, Canada, and blows all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. I discovered the same storm had different names depending where it began. When a writer sees names like Saskatchewan Screamer and Manitoba Mauler, the imagination kicks in to high gear! Needless to say, when this info hound’s imagination gets tickled, that means it’s a topic worth examining a bit more.
Here’s another weather system with an evocative name ~
A Pineapple Express — literally a weather system fueled by an atmospheric river that travels from Hawaii to the Western United States. Atmospheric river conjures its own imagery, doesn’t it?
This powerful storm is fueled by a stream of tropical moisture that originates off the Hawaiian Islands. (Hawaii = pineapples, hence the name.) Once formed, the Pineapple Express tends to linger. Fueled by its river of moisture, it often dumps torrential rainfall, even at higher elevations where it contributes to mudslides and flash floods.
It basically works like this: There’s a semi-high pressure area located over the eastern Pacific Ocean. This deflects storms north-westward across North America. In the winter months, this high pressure area weakens and allows the jet stream to steer those mid-latitude weather systems it doesn’t normally have access to the rest of the year. At the same time, a high-pressure system over the Gulf of Alaska blocks the polar jet stream. Weather systems forming over the warm Pacific Ocean tend to be moisture heavy, so the result is a storm with long duration and very heavy rainfall. Because of this continuous feed of tropical moisture, the main problem with the Pineapple Express is they are likely to dump a year’s worth of precipitation in a week. They also come with hurricane winds, tornadoes, flooding, and landslides.
Who knew such a whimsical name came with such a terrible personality?
Tomorrow ~ one more.
I often wonder where certain words and sayings come from. For the next few weeks this word collector is going to examine some familiar phrases to get at their heart.
The phrase for today is ~ Turn a blind eye.
It means a willful refusal to acknowledge some particular reality. Curiously, the phrase begins with British naval hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson before his distinguished career took off and he himself became the stuff of legend.
As the story goes, when the British navy was up against the large Danish-Norwegian fleet during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. The conservative superior officer commanding the British fleet flagged his ships to withdraw. It was here that the young Horatio Nelson (who previously lost an eye in Corsica) put his telescope to his bad eye and told the men, “I really do not see the signal.” Fact or fiction, however it was, they went on fighting and he went on to score a decisive victory. Most historians refer to this as a battlefield myth.
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