From their press release
The Weather Channel announced today its new naming system for winter storms, making it the first national organization in North America to proactively name winter storms. In time for the start of the winter season, naming storms makes communications and information sharing easier, enabling consumers to better understand forecasts that could significantly affect their lives.
“On a national scale, the most intense winter storms acquire a name through some aspect of pop culture and now, social media, for example Snowmaggeddon and Snotober,” said Tom Niziol, winter weather expert for The Weather Channel Companies. “Retrospectively naming lake effect storms has been a local success at The National Weather Service office in Buffalo, NY as well as with Weather Services throughout Europe and we believe it can be a useful tool on a national scale in the U.S.”
The Weather Channel has the meteorological ability, support and technology to bring a more systematic approach to naming winter storms, similar to the way tropical storms have been named for years, staying true to its mission to keep the public safe and informed in times of severe-weather events. During the winter months, many people are impacted by freezing temperatures, flooding and power outages, travel disruptions and other impacts caused by snow and ice storms. The new naming system will raise awareness and reduce the risks, danger, and confusion for consumers in the storms’ paths.
A group of senior meteorologists chose the 26 names (one for each letter of the alphabet) on the 2012-2013 winter storm list. The only criteria: choose names that are not and have never been on any of the hurricane lists produced by the National Hurricane Center or National Weather Service. Naming will occur no more than three days prior to a winter storms expected impact to ensure there is strong confidence the system could have a significant effect on large populations.
In North America, only hurricanes, which are the biggest weather systems on the planet, have been proactively named using a system that has been effective in preparing consumers during the tropical season. The winter naming system will raise consumer awareness, which will lead to better planning and preparedness, resulting in less overall impact – in the same way that names for topical systems raise awareness.
Visit http://wxch.nl/SyPRDs for the complete 2012-2013 winter storm list.
Over at the Washington Post, The Capital Weather Gang isn’t that impressed. Jason Samenow writes:
But one of the more convincing criticisms of the storm naming initiative I’ve seen originates from Chris McMurry, public relations director for MGH, a Maryland-based advertising agency. His thoughtful blog post – headlined “At the Weather Channel, It’s Marketing First, News Second” is worth reading. The gist of his argument is that TWC may do its audience a disservice by (intentionally or unintentionally) prioritizing “branding” over substance.
A key excerpt:
What makes this Weather Channel decision more about marketing than news is that it, as a ratings-generating television network, gets to set the parameters for what makes for a “name-worthy” winter storm. In essence, there is a profit motive in exclusively branding severe weather events that have the ability to destroy homes and claim lives.
. . .…in this situation, it appears The Weather Channel is driven more by creating a branded product, complete with fancy graphics, than in delivering weather news in the clearest, most commonly understood way, which is what The Weather Channel should stand for. Marketing is important for any business, but when it gets in the way of your mission, perhaps it goes too far.
Full story at WaPo here.
Here’s the list of names they came up with:
Athena: The Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspirations, justice, mathematics and all things wonderful.
Brutus: Roman Senator and best known assassin of Julius Caesar.
Caesar: Title used by Roman and Byzantine emperors.
Draco: The first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.
Euclid: A mathematician in Ancient Greece, the father of geometry.
Freyr: A Norse god associated with fair weather, among other things.
Gandolf: A character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside.
Helen: In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus.
Iago: Enemy of Othello in Shakespeare’s play, Othello.
Jove: The English name for Jupiter, the Roman god of light and sky.
Khan: Mongolian conqueror and emperor of the Mongol empire.
Luna: The divine embodiment of the moon in Roman mythology.
Magnus: The Father of Europe, Charlemagne the Great, in Latin: Carolus Magnus.
Nemo: A Greek boy’s name meaning “from the valley,” means “nobody” in Latin.
Orko: The thunder god in Basque mythology.
Rocky: A single mountain in the Rockies.
Saturn: Roman god of time, also the namesake of the planet Saturn in our solar system.
Triton: In Greek mythology, the messenger of the deep sea, son of Poseidon.
Ukko: In Finnish mythology, the god of the sky and weather.
Virgil: One of ancient Rome’s greatest poets.
Walda: Name from Old German meaning “ruler.”
Xerxes: The fourth king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Xerxes the Great.
Yogi: People who do yoga.
Zeus: In Greek mythology, the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and the gods who lived there.
I have to think though that with a list like that, which looks like a cross between the movies Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Clash of the Titans, it is going to raise more guffaws than ratings. I know major snow storms bury people alive, but really, Khan?