3 October 2012

Weather Channel Plan To Name Winter Storms Gets Frosty Reception

Posted by Dan Satterfield


Visible satellite image of snow cover after the Snowmageddon/ Snowpocalypse of 2010. DC and Delmarva were buried.

Forecast meteorologists seem to have come to a similar opinion today after the The Weather Channel announced that they are going to begin naming some winter storms. I think that opinion could be best paraphrased by: “Are you kidding??”

Yes, hurricanes get names, but they last days or even weeks, whereas a blizzard may last two or three days on average. The 2010 blizzard in DC has acquired the name SNOWMAGEDDON, but who knows who first thought it up. It just sort of stuck, and there are plenty of other examples, like the President’s Day Snowstorm of 2003. TIME magazine has a list of them even!

From TIME magazine

I’m not saying that it is an absolutely bad idea, but TWC doing it unilaterally is not really the way to go here IMHO. Talking with NOAA and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) might have been a good idea first. The AMS  Board of Broadcast Meteorology, and others at the society would have been at least a good starting point. Talks between NOAA and the broadcast community could be facilitated by the AMS ,and the idea considered.

They could also submit a paper ( my preference) to one of the peer-reviewed journals outlining the idea and stating the criteria for using it. That would begin a constructive feedback process (one hopes) that could lead to perhaps an informal adoption and perhaps a more formal adoption later on. The Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale and the Fujita tornado intensity scale began just this way.

We all have different ideas, but I know a lot of forecasters both in NOAA and private industry and I can tell you that almost to a person they care deeply about providing the public accurate weather information. It’s not too late for that either, let’s all step back and talk about it. In the meantime, the public will be calling the NWS (and on air Meteorologists like me) and asking about a name we will likely have no idea about…

The twitter verse has reacted with a hashtag #rejectedTWCnames. I have included a few of the tweets here for all of our enjoyment..