After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, baby names starting with the letter K increased in popularity by 9%.
After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, baby names starting with A increased in popularity by 7%.
People weren’t naming their children after the storms. (Usage of both Katrina and Andrew decreased after each respective hurricane.)
But people did suddenly have an affinity for like-sounding names.
Because we like familiar things. (Remember the name-letter effect?) When a named storm is in the news, we hear that name repeatedly. If it’s a particularly bad storm, we hear the name constantly.
And as the name becomes more familiar to us, we start to like it more and more. (Even if we don’t realize it!)
So in 2012, we shouldn’t necessarily expect the usage of the name Sandy to increase.
But we might see an uptick in the number of babies given names similar to Sandy — names like Sarah, Sammy, Sydney, Mandy and Brandy.
Source: Hurricanes and Hot Baby Names
(I also mentioned this research in Name Quotes for the Weekend #3.)