Q: Who Names the Winter Storms? A: The Weather Channel

I asked “when did we start naming winter storms?” on Twitter over the weekend and reader @cindykilkenny provided me with this release from the Weather Channel. As you read, note that there’s no discussion of the increase in weather-alarmism this move will cause, nor do I understand why the rest of the media just decided to follow the Weather Channel on this. All a bunch of lemmings: 

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.  

Naming Winter Storms

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.

(MORE: Check Out the New Storm Names for the 2012-2013 Season)

The question then begs to ask “Why aren’t winter storms named?”  In fact, in Europe the naming of weather systems has been going on for a long time.  Here in the U.S., summer time storms including thunderstorms and tornadoes occur on such a small time and space scale that there would be little benefit and much confusion trying to attach names to them. However, winter weather is different. Winter storms occur on a time and space scale that is similar to tropical systems.

In fact, historically many major winter storms have been named during or after the event has occurred. Examples include “The President’s Day Storm” and “Snowmageddon.” Yet, until now, there has been no organized naming system for these storms before they impact population centers.

One of the reasons this may be true is that there is no national center, such as the National Hurricane Center, to coordinate and communicate information on a multi-state scale to cover such big events. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) does issue discussions and snowfall forecasts on a national scale but it does not fill the same role as the NHC in naming storms. Therefore, it would be a great benefit for a partner in the weather industry to take on the responsibility of developing a new concept.   

This is where a world-class organization such as The Weather Channel will play a significant role. We have the meteorological ability, support and technology to provide the same level of reporting for winter storms that we have done for years with tropical weather systems. 

The rest here.

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