Screamers, Maulers, & Pineapples

wind-godThe word Storm comes from a Proto-Germanic  word that means a violent and noisy commotionsturmaz.

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 ~

imagesPineapple Express
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 pineappleexpresssemi-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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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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4 Responses to Screamers, Maulers, & Pineapples

  1. Jane Leopold Quinn says:

    I’m always interested and curious about where common sayings come from. This will be fascinating, Rose.

  2. Wonderfully fun post- I know all about Alberta Clippers – I’m in the path line of them on the way to the Atlantic. Pineapple Express always evoked warm thoughts – but I know those storms are much different.
    Love the Horatio Nelson line – about not seeing the signal. Brilliant.

  3. treknray says:

    I didn’t know that particular story about Nelson. I try to remember everything I ever hear or read about him. When I was in the Navy we made a stop in Portsmouth, England. The CPO Mess got invited aboard the HMS Victory for a tour and lunch in the ship’s CPO Mess. The Victory is the oldest ship in the world still in commission. When we first arrived on the Victory we participated in the tot of rum ceremony.

    The Victory was one of three foreign ships the mess was invited to visit in the early eighties. One was a German tender. I love German food, especially sauerkraut and sausage. The third was the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was tied up next to us in Rodman in what was then the Panama Canal Zone. The royals were not aboard or we would not have had the invitation. One tale about the Britannia is about the laundryman. He refused to take a promotion, because he received tips for his services and would not have been allowed to keep them if he had been promoted to petty officer rank. It would have been a reduction in take home pay.

  4. melissakeir says:

    I’m ready for the cold weather to finally go. Hopefully some warmer weather can come our way soon! Thanks for sharing. Your posts are always so informative.

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