The day I have been dreading is finally here: Nestor is barreling toward Florida.
I apologize in advance for being self-involved, but what am I supposed to do here? I’m not the one who added the name on my driver’s license to the list of monikers for tropical cyclones that form in the Atlantic.
On Friday afternoon, when the system swirling in the Gulf of Mexico gathered enough strength to earn a name, Tropical Storm Nestor became official.
You heard about Hurricane Dorian, of course — a Category 5 monster that ravaged the Bahamas and made a mess of Georgia and the Carolinas. But you might have missed Andrea, Chantal, Karen, and the rest of this year’s storms, many of which raged impotently over the open ocean and never made landfall.
Storm names proceed alphabetically, so after Tropical Storm Melissa petered out — she was known for some coastal flooding and her profane eggplant emoji shape on the radar — it was finally Nestor’s turn.
If you’re called Karen or Melissa, the experience of sharing a name with a storm is unremarkable. Society immediately recognizes Karen and Melissa as names, after all. When Hurricane Bob was ransacking Cape Cod in 1991, state Representative Bob DeLeo had just been elected for the first time.
“I took a lot of grief at the time,” DeLeo said in an interview. “Some people joked about the fact that ‘you just get elected and this is what you do to us?’ ”
“I gotta admit, I sort of got a kick out of it,” DeLeo said. “It was fun to get so many calls.”
Fundamentally, though, Bob is a common name. When your name is Nestor? Well, it’s not great, Bob.
People have been coming up to me for days asking about this storm, which is expected to make landfall around Florida’s panhandle Saturday. It has reached the point where they’re just asking how many other people have asked about it (that still counts, Evan).
In truth, the storm is only the latest indignity. When you’re named Nestor, you get a lot of Nester, of course. And a lot of Lester. It doesn’t take long for kids to realize that Nestor rhymes with molester, though I haven’t heard that one since . . . well, I heard it this morning, actually.
It has occurred to me, in fact, that a notable storm with my name might make life a bit easier in the long run. If Hurricane Nestor forms and obliterates, I don’t know, say, a certain Miami-area resort slated to hold next year’s G-7 summit (without causing any injuries, of course), then maybe Starbucks baristas will stop writing things like “Newtster” on my lattes.
Tropical storms in the Atlantic have been given names since 1953, according to the World Meteorological Organization. A committee comes up with the names, which are grouped into annual lists that rotate every six years. In 2013, the last time Nestor was on the list, the Atlantic’s final tropical storm of the year was the unremarkable Melissa, which never made landfall. And so Nestor was carried forward to 2019.
Storm names are only retired when reusing them would be unseemly on account of the carnage: There will never be another Hurricane Maria, for example.
A bad enough storm can effectively take a name out of circulation going forward. Katrina was a reasonably popular name for girls for decades, until the storm hit. According to the Social Security Administration, Katrina was among the top 300 names for girls born every year between 1962 and 2005 — the year Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans. It’s been on the decline ever since. By 2013, it had dropped out of the top 1,000. By 2018, there were more girls being named Journey, Journi, and Jurnee than Katrina. By a lot.
Nestor, though? The name Nestor has nowhere to go but up. The last time Nestor cracked the top 1,000 was in 2007, when it was a few spots behind Kelton, Konnor, Ethen, and Raiden, which may or may not be the names of the Palin kids. A memorable but not too disastrous storm might propel Nestor back into common usage.
Tropical Storm Nestor might not get it done. But look out, Kelton. We’re coming for you in 2025.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.