The Weather Channel To Name Winter Storms ... Good Idea Or Publicity Stunt?
Yesterday The Weather Channel announced it will be naming winter storms for the 2012 - 2013 season. It grabbed a lot of attention, so I wanted to take a look at what they are doing and if it seems like a good idea. Here are the names they have chosen for this winter season...
During the upcoming 2012-13 winter season The Weather Channel will name noteworthy winter storms. Below is our list of names, along with some information about the origins of the names.
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
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.
So why do this? Here is TWCs explanation on why they are doing this...
- 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.
The real question is what criteria will they use to name these storms. Here is a direct quote from their website...
"The process for naming a winter storm will reflect a more complete assessment of several variables that combine to produce disruptive impacts including snowfall, ice, wind and temperature. In addition, the time of day (rush hour vs. overnight) and the day of the week (weekday school and work travel vs. weekends) will be taken into consideration in the process the meteorological team will use to name storms."
If you are left scratching your head after reading this, then you are probably like most meteorologists in the US. We name tropical systems based on specific and definable criteria ... namely wind speeds. These winds are either directly measured or derived using reliable satellite methods. It is clear that we are using a scientific approach to name tropical systems. The process TWC will be using to name storms is vague, based on forecasts (not facts), and unbelievably subjective. What you may think is a storm that should be named, well, someone else may not agree. A storm that produces 2" of snow on the weekend may not get a name even if the exact same storm came during a work week day. Even worse, a storm that produces dusting in the south might get a name, but the EXACT same storm in the north may not. You can see this structure is not only flawed, but it could become incredibly confusing to everyone.
The fact is the NWS has never chosen this method, so this is not official by any means. I suspect the NWS sees the major flaws in this entire process and wants nothing to do with it. The question really comes down to this... is this simply an attempt from TWC to get attention or a step forward for meteorology. While I don't speak for all meteorologists, I think the system is so flawed and will be so confusing that it will be a mess. Bad move in my opinion.
Let me know what you think on my facebook page...