Winter storm Nemo is already bearing down on the East Coast, which may make you wonder, since when are we naming winter storms? And who has this privilege? Well, unlike hurricanes, which are named by the World Meteorological Organization, America’s winter storms are now named by the Weather Channel. Why? Basically, because they called it last November:
During the upcoming 2012-13 winter season The Weather Channel will name noteworthy winter storms. Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.
Hurricanes and tropical storms have been given names since the 1940s. In the late 1800s, tropical systems near Australia were named as well. Weather systems, including winter storms, have been named in Europe since the 1950s. Important dividends have resulted from attaching names to these storms:
• Naming a storm raises awareness.
• Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.
• A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
• In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
• A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.
This begs the question, Why aren’t winter storms named?’ In fact, in Europe the naming of weather systems has been going on for a long time.
Oh, the Weather Channel. You make a pretty compelling argument about raising awareness rather than sensationalism. That is, until you release a list of names that includes Zeus, Brutus, and Khan. Seriously. That happened.
[Hat tip: boingboing]