September 09, 2004

"Wake" as predicted track

"Keys evacuated in Ivan's wake", says the USA Today headline, "Posted 9/92004 12:35 PM" and "Updated 9/9/2003 1:50 PM". The thing is, at 2:00 PM, Ivan's center was at latitude 14.8 north, longitude 72.0 west, about 580 KM southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. The NOAA's current 5-day forecast has Ivan hitting Key West on Monday morning, around breakfast time, almost four days from now.

If I were in the Florida Keys, I'd certainly be following the evacuation instructions. A "category 5" hurricane is no joke. But surely we're talking about Ivan's path , not Ivan's wake.

I guess that the headline writer doesn't really know what a wake is. Or at least, (s)he didn't think about the trail that a boat leaves in the water when using the word, taking it instead to mean something like "track". This is a bit surprising, given the popularity of kayaking, windsurfing and jet skis, as well as more conventional water craft.

It's more obvious why such bleaching should have happened to all the words dealing with horse gear, as I discussed back in January. How many of us have recent experience dealing with unbridled equines? So it won't surprise me, as Ivan bears down on the U.S., to find a journalist or two writing about its "unbrided fury".

[Update: as of the 6:48 p.m. update of this story, the headline is the more coherent "Keys evacuated as Ivan approaches". ]

Posted by Mark Liberman at September 9, 2004 04:50 PM