27 Oct 2013

Met Office: We don’t know why the storm is called St Jude

We’ve all heard of Hurricane Mitch or Katrina, but why the blustery weather due to strike the UK on Monday has been named after a saint is unknown to Britain’s official storm watchers, the Met Office.

Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes (Getty)

Hurricanes get proper names, but storms usually don’t. Why the storm due to hit Britain on Monday morning is called St Jude is a mystery to the Met Office.

Not many in Britain will be aware that tomorrow is the feast of St Jude Thaddaeus, but it is.

Someone with a good knowledge of the ecclesiastical calendar dubbed the storm due to hit on that day “St Jude” and it’s caught on like wildfire across the media.

Whoever did come up with it dismissed the fourteen other saints who share October 28 as a feast day – including St Anastasia II, St Ferrutius and St Simon the Zealot to plump for Jude as the namesake of the storm.

Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes (Getty)

St Jude was one of Jesus’s 12 apostles, famed for writing a punchy letter to the early bishops and being clubbed to death before having his head cut off in Armenia, after locals took ill to his attempts to convert them to Christianity.

St Jude is often shown with a club as a sign of his martyrdom. In later Christian traditions he became known as the saint of difficult cases or lost causes, in part because of his epistles to a Christian church in danger.

“We don’t actually know where it has come from,” said Laura Young, a spokesperson for the Met Office said: “We don’t name storms in the UK. The Americans name hurricanes, and the Europeans sometimes name storms, but we don’t.

“It could have been Americans who named it and it was reported in their media. Or it could be someone in the media here saw that it was St Jude’s day and decided to name it that.

Ms Young said she wasn’t aware of any precedents where storms were called after Catholic saints, but say that “sometimes it’s useful to give storms names.”

As the world meteorological organisation puts it:

The practice of naming storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms. Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.

List of storm names for Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic Names for 2013: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van, Wendy

What would you have called the storm? St Ferrutius? Tell us on @Channel4News