Hurricane Brownie?

Global warming or vengeful God, one thing's for certain: there's been so many storms this hurricane season that the Weather Service is running out of names. With Rita barreling towards Galveston and the likely potential for Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma to materialize out of the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center is preparing to resort to Greek letters in case of a fifth storm. It would be the first Hurricane Alpha, and at this pace, Alpha may be followed by Hurricanes Beta, Gamma, and so on.

But doesn't that seem like a waste when you think of all the money that could be made opening up the process to corporate sponsorships? That's right: let's bring the market to the final frontier and start selling weather. If nature hands us a few meteorological lemons, I say let's make some corporate lemonade! It'd be great exposure; just attach your company name, new product, or catchy slogan to a budding storm for a week-long blitz of name recognition. Boeing needs to promote a brand new plane? Just think how many people will hear about Tropical Storm Boeing 797 as it picks up windspeed, threatens the eastern seaboard, only to dramatically veer north at the last minute. Then Europe would have to get in on at least a Cat 3 to promote the latest Airbus model. People could finally launch new products in August. It's a win-win -- and whole new revenue stream!

Or think of the branding synergy potential: a Hurricane Enron en route for Texas back in 2001 would have been particularly sweet for all those cowboy traders and their wild, devil-may-care financing! (And what more fitting way to blow employees' pensions than for Enron to spend all its money on wind?) Out in the Pacific, try on Cyclone Halliburton for size! They're all over the Middle East and CONUS, but I'm thinking they could use a little exposure boost in Asia.

And how about personal sponsorships? Personal publicity is the new corporate publicity. What super-rich megalomaniac wouldn't want to have a 200-mile wide storm named after him or her? We could sucker Kim Jong Il to throw the last of his hard currency chips in to ravage the Gulf Coast for a few days. Or maybe someone just needs to get their name out there. A well timed Hurricane Alberto, say, might be just the right move for our Attorney General if he wants to keep his name in the pile for the new Supreme Court opening. Gonzales could wait it out, since Alberto is already slated as the first named storm of 2006, but by then it might be too late.