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Storms with female names are deadlier, according to report

The female of the species is deadlier than the male ... it's true for spiders, praying mantises and some types of snakes. 

Now, you can add hurricanes to the list, thanks a study published this week. 

According to the report, hurricanes with female names are not deadlier not because of their intensity, but because people unconsciously think a storm with a female name is less dangerous than one with a masculine name.

This leads to people in its path being less likely to flee, making them more vulnerable to harm. 

The report claims that a storm with a male name would kill about 15 people, but a hurricane of the same strength with a female name would kill about 42.

When judging a storm’s threat, people “appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave,” said the study's co-author Sharon Shavitt, a professor of marketing at Illinois. 

“This makes a female-named hurricane, especially one with a very feminine name such as Belle or Cindy, seem gentler and less violent.” A spokesman for the National Hurricane Center declined to say whether scientists there find this analysis credible. 

This National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image, taken August 28, 2005 shows Hurricane Katrina as the storm's outer bands lashed the Gulf Coast the day before landfall.

This National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image, taken August 28, 2005 shows Hurricane Katrina as the storm's outer bands lashed the Gulf Coast the day before landfall. Photo: Reuters

In one, the Illinois team gave 346 volunteers no information about a storm except its name, and asked them to predict its intensity.

“Omar,” "Marco” and the like were judged more severe than “Fay,” "Laura,” and their sisters.

In four additional experiments, volunteers shown a storm’s projected path were up to 34 percent more likely to say they would evacuate ahead of male names than female ones on the same path.

But “whether the name is Sam or Samantha,” Dennis Feltgen said, people must heed evacuation orders.

Did you know ...

Hurricane names currently alternate between male and female.

Among those the World Meteorological Organization has chosen for 2014: Dolly, Josephine, and Vicky. When the National Hurricane Center began giving storms human names in 1953 with Alice, it used only women’s. The first “male” Atlantic hurricane was Bob, in 1979.

Sources: Reuters, USA Today, Mashable