Germany sells the rights to name a storm

So, if you’ve been following your meteorological news — and it’s a sign of our times, I suppose, that this is indeed a thriving subcategory of news — you’ll know that Europe was savaged by a blast-force gale yesterday. The storm, which ripped the heck outta Britain, Ireland, France and the Netherlands, is called “Kyrill” by German meteorologists.

Hmmm, you might ask: Where did they get the name “Kryill”? Well, according to today’s New York Times , anyone in Germany can buy the rights to name a storm. To quote:

The name Kyrill stems from a German practice of naming weather systems. Anyone may name one, for a fee. Naming a high-pressure system costs $385, while low-pressure systems, which are more common, go for $256. Three siblings paid to name this system as a 65th birthday gift for their father, not knowing that it would grow into a fierce storm.

“We hope ourselves that we’ll get out of it lightly,” Rumen Genow, one of the three, told a northern German newspaper on Thursday.

It reminds me of the incredible surreality of the rules for naming planets, which I blogged about last winter.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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