Photo: By U.S. Department of Agriculture

Photo: By U.S. Department of Agriculture

As the devastating floodwaters in Louisiana begin to recede, many are questioning why so many people were unaware of the risks. And some people are suggesting that it’s because the storm didn’t have a name.

Instead, residents heard warnings of “heavy rain” and “isolated flash flooding”—both rather uncompelling descriptions.

NOAA even referred to the storm as a “sheared inland tropical depression.” Now why didn’t that get people heading for higher ground?

Weather services routinely give names to hurricanes and major winter storms. Because we associate named storms with significant danger and damage, our brains are more likely to notice this information and have an emotional response to the warnings.

Whether we prepare for the storm is another question entirely. And perhaps naming this storm would have made little difference to the outcome.

On the other hand, which hashtag would be more likely to trend on social media?

#summerstormbertha or #shearedinlandtropicaldepression?