A radio news report this morning informed me that tropical storm Beryl was "barreling" across the Atlantic, but a later report changed the verb to "lumbering." Why? "Beryl is barreling" sounds like a reckless roller-coaster ride while "Beryl is lumbering" makes me think of stolid flannel-clad men carrying axes slowly through a dark wood, hardly the first image that pops into my head when I think of hurricanes.
alliteration too silly for a serious storm, or perhaps the verb was
changed in an attempt at greater precision, which raises the question:
at what point does a tropical storm switch from "barreling" to
"lumbering"? Does the distinction center upon speed or does steadiness
of direction enter into the equation as well? "Barreling" suggests an
out-of-control swerviness, while "lumbering" pursues the most direct
line to the goal. Which would do more harm on landfall, a barreling
storm or a lumbering storm? And how should one prepare?
I've got to admire whoever
wrote the initial report. Whoever you are, oh nameless NPR reporter who
wrote "Beryl is barreling"--you nailed it!