Mar 28, 2014

Wordology, Perfect Storm

It is actually a cliché and will not go away as most clichés usually do. One would naturally think a perfect storm is about weather, but it is seldom used to discuss weather. In fact, it was used for a few hundred years before a Texas weather bureau first used in 1936: "The weather bureau describes the disturbance as ‘the perfect storm’ of its type. Seven factors were involved in the chain of circumstances that led to the flood."

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service said "I haven't used it once after 30 years in the Weather Service and am proud to say I've never used 'Storm of the Century,' either." Major weeknight network newscasts (NBC, ABC, CBS) used it a total of 32 times in the past year; USA Today used it 22 times, and the New York Times used it 57 times, all discussing non-weather related items.

Current usage describes a perfect storm as a confluence of circumstances that tend to exaggerate a situation, such as:
May was another perfect-storm month for the NBA.
A strong showing by Tiger Woods was a perfect storm of scoring conditions.
Budget cuts led to a perfect storm of unintended consequences.
The confluence of the Internet, TiVo, cable TV, and DVDs, means we are looking at a perfect storm.
The economic disaster was caused by a perfect storm of real-estate headaches.
About the recently fired Catholic bishop - ‘Bishop Bling’ was a perfect storm.
At the end of the day, I guess a perfect storm is better than using 'at the end of the day'.