3 October 2013

Why Your Local Meteorologists Couldn’t Care Less What The Weather Channel Calls A Winter Storm.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

GOESSTORMAt the American Meteorological Society’s Conference on Broadcast Meteorology last June the broadcasters were asked to raise their hands if they used The Weather Channel’s (TWC) winter storm names. One person raised their hand (and that person worked for a station owned by the same company as the TWC!). Virtually every government and private meteorologist in the country sees this for what it is: A publicity stunt to raise ratings.

There are several good reasons that winter storms are not named, the least of which is the fact that classifying when a storm deserves naming is problematic at best. Do you use the strength of the low pressure system? What about the amount of snowfall, or wind speeds? What about a bad storm that affects almost no-one. When you apply some critical thinking to the idea, it quickly becomes obvious that there are some serious issues with naming winter storms in North America.The number one reason against it IMHO is confusion among the public.

Brian Norcross (of TWC) made his companies case for it at the June conference in Nashville, but I thought his case was very weak, and I don’t know of anyone swayed by the argument. NOAA personnel have been told to never use the names by the way, and your local on air weathercaster is unlikely to have any idea what name is being used.  I know of no forecasters at those NBC (Comcast) owned  stations who are being forced to do so, at least for now.

In short the TWC winter storm names are no different than Accu-Weather’s “45 day forecasts”, or the The Farmers Almanac’s “winter forecast of doom.

It’s just marketing hype aimed at people with low science literacy.