Who “Coined the Phrase” Frankenstorm?
The word “Frankenstorm” started making the rounds on October 25th, 2012. At the time, the forecast showed Hurricane Sandy moving up the eastern coast of the U.S., meeting up with a different storm moving east, as well as cold air coming from Canada. The most misery was to occur around Halloween. Predicted result: a hybrid superstorm bringing snow, rain, high wind, flooding, evacuations, closed businesses and overall panic. A Halloween nor’easter? That sounds familiar. Really familiar.
After checking multiple news sources and Twitter, it turns out the word came from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. The HPC is part of the federal National Weather Service. It predicts rainfall totals and issues forecast summaries.
HPC releases two “Extended Forecast Discussions” each day, written in all-caps. The discussion I pasted below was posted at 9:42a on Thursday, October 25, 2012. It focused on Hurricane Sandy, adding the fascinating phrases “amplifying polar trough” and “hybrid vortex.” It even explained “Frankenstorm” as “an allusion to Mary Shelley’s Gothic creature of synthesized elements.” USA Today mistakenly reported that the first reference was in the HPC’s Thursday afternoon report.
“Cisco” is referenced at the end of the report below. He is a HPC staff member, meteorologist James Cisco. The first source I saw that specifically gave James credit for the phrase was the Associated Press via NPR. Nice work, sir. It gave countless people the idea to dress as Frankenstorm for Halloween.
PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER COLLEGE PARK MD
942 AM EDT THU OCT 25 2012
VALID 12Z MON OCT 29 2012 – 12Z THU NOV 01 2012
…HIGH IMPACT MERGING OF ENERGETIC SYSTEMS ANTICIPATED OFF THE MID ATLANTIC COAST…
DESPITE A MODEST CLUSTER OF OUTLYING DETERMINISTIC SOLUTIONS AND ENSEMBLE MEMBERS FROM THE VARIOUS MODELING CENTERS, THE LION’S SHARE OF GUIDANCE INDICATES THAT THE CIRCULATION ASSOCIATED WITH HURRICANE SANDY WILL PASS CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE AMPLIFYING POLAR TROUGH OVER THE EASTERN UNITED STATES TO BECOME INCORPORATED INTO A HYBRID VORTEX OVER THE MID ATLANTIC AND NORTHEAST NEXT TUESDAY. THE HIGH DEGREE OF BLOCKING FROM EASTERN NORTH AMERICA ACROSS THE ENTIRE ATLANTIC BASIN IS EXPECTED TO ALLOW THIS UNUSUAL MERGER TO TAKE PLACE, AND ONCE THE COMBINED GYRE MATERIALIZES, IT SHOULD SETTLE BACK TOWARD THE INTERIOR NORTHEAST THROUGH HALLOWEEN, INVITING PERHAPS A GHOULISH NICKNAME FOR THE CYCLONE ALONG THE LINES OF “FRANKENSTORM”, AN ALLUSION TO MARY SHELLEY’S GOTHIC CREATURE OF SYNTHESIZED ELEMENTS.
AS IS OFTEN THE CASE, WHEN ONE PART OF THE NATION IS EXPERIENCING A VERY ENERGETIC ATMOSPHERE DISTURBANCE, THE REMAINDER IS RELATIVELY CALM. THIS EVENT SHOULD NOT PROVE THE EXCEPTION, WITH A FAIRLY BENIGN FEED OF PACIFIC AIR INTO MOST OF THE WESTERN AND CENTRAL STATES. THE FAR WEST, PARTICULAR NORTH OF CALIFORNIA, WILL HAVE ENOUGH SUSTAINED ONSHORE FLOW TO KEEP THE PERIOD WET AND UNSETTLED.