The upcoming storm

As Hurricane Sandy advances on the East Coast of the U.S., a storm of playful morphology has developed in its wake, unleashing gales of the portmanteaus snowicane and frankenstorm.

(Hat tip to Victor Steinbok on ADS-L, 10/25/12.)

1. Snowicane. (With hurricarnage as a bonus.) The advancing hurricane will merge with other weather systems to produce not just high winds and heavy rains, but also some snow; hence snowicane = snow(storm) + hurricane. From an assortment of occurrences, here’s Dan Amira in New York Magazine (updated story from yesterday):

It Is Time to Start Freaking Out About Snowicane Sandy [Updated]

As adherents of Journalism, we have a sacred duty to our readers — nay, to society as a whole — to keep the public informed while remaining calm and level-headed, to report the news without sensationalism, and to avoid panic-mongering at all costs. But holy shit, everyone, a giant storm is going to destroy New York next week and everyone needs to start freaking out immediately!!!

… That’s right: It’s worse than a storm known to history as the Perfect Storm. Because it’s not just a storm, it’s a snowicane. A Perfect Snowicane, Hurricarnage, or whatever portmanteau we collectively settle on eventually. And just when you didn’t think it could get any crazier:

It is likely to hit during a full moon …

Earlier portmansnow words / snowmanteaux on this blog:

12/22/08, Portmansnow words (link): snowtastrophe, snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, snowzilla

2/12/10, Portmansnow, round 2 (link): more examples, mostly from from Ben Zimmer

10/30/11, Inevitable portmanteau (link): Octsnowber; in comments, Snowctober, Snowtober

And on Language Log:

1/18/12, Mark Liberman, Snowmanteaux (link)

2. Frankenstorm. Again, from a number of sources, here’s one from the Hydometeorological Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, which sends out all-caps bulletins (this is a version of the Hurricane Sandy bulletin from 10/25):

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.

(The NWS engages here in the usual confusion between the name of the creator of the creature — Frankenstein in Shelley — and the name for the creature.)

The combining form Franken- (roughly, ‘monster’) is a natural outgrowth of Frankenstein, applied especially to genetically modified (GM) organisms (e.g., Frankenfood), but it has wider uses as well, as in this posting from earlier this year:

Franken- hasn’t confined itself to the GM world. Here’s an extension (from Quinion’s World Wide Words #675 of 1/30/10) to the weather:

Frankenstorm: The recent wild weather in California was the subject of a report from the Associated Press which appeared in various newspapers on Monday. Karen Courtenay read it in the Boston Globe: “A team of scientists hunkered down at the California Institute of Technology to work on a ‘Frankenstorm’ scenario – a mother lode wintry blast that could potentially sock the Golden State.

When I quoted this discussion of Franken- yesterday on ADS-L, Joel Berson quipped:

And after a close and long-disputed election, it entered the US Senate.

I then played with this:

I suppose this has already been done, but if you cobble together an Al Franken from dead senators, you’d get a Frankenfranken.

Well, Berson noted, it has been done. He found about 1,190 ghits, including Daily Show writer Dan McCoy’s blog posting, “Shouts and Vitriol” of 7/20/06, in which he tells his readers to “read the following rejected [by the New Yorker] piece [“Frankenfranken”], and tell me that it’s not eight times as funny as anything they’ve printed in the last year [in their “Shouts and Murmurs” humor section]”:

The following is a transcript of the now infamous “Frankenfranken” program that aired at 2 am on July 17, 2005. It was the last episode of the program ever to be produced.

ANNOUNCER

Coming up next, we have The Frankenfranken Show, which will carry you on through ’til morning. This is Air America. The time is 2:05 AM.

Theme: Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper. Fade out.

FRANKENFRANKEN

How many times does Frankenfranken have to explain to you people? Frankenfranken and Al Franken not the same. Frankenfranken created by Air America in effort to plug gigantic hole in least-popular overnight time slot. Me stitched together from parts of six dead Al Franken clones and one box Frankenberry™ brand cereal, then reanimated using power of lighting bolt that strike Air America broadcasting tower! IS VERY SIMPLE!

Can’t wait to see Frankenfranken Meets the Frankenstorm. Meanwhile, East Coasters should stock up on Frankenfood for the occasion.

 

4 Responses to “The upcoming storm”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Steve Kleinedler on Facebook:

    Hurricane + Snowstorm = Meteorological Sharktopus

    Sharktopus is a hybrid monster movie, mentioned (along with Piranhaconda) here.

  2. Ben Zimmer Says:

    There’s also snor’eastercane (snow + nor’easter + hurricane) and hurrisnowmafrankenmegastormcane.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    And Geoff Pullum on Lingua Franca, on Frankenstorm, Frankenweenie, Frankenstrat (guitar), frankenfood.

  4. Franken meets gate « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] -gate words a month ago, here.  And dreadful-weather words, including Frankenstorm, more recently, here. The storm posting went on to cite Frankenfranken, referring to an Al Frankenoid creature made of […]

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