Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Naming Winter Storms Is a Bad Idea

The Weather Channel
Today, The Weather Channel announced that they will be naming winter storms throughout the winter of 2012-2013, much like tropical cyclones. I'm here to tell you why this is a bad idea.

This is not a government source.
This is coming from a third party source, no matter how official the people who work at TWC are. A third party putting their own names to winter storms under their own criteria is like a person telling the pharmacist what medication they will need without consulting a doctor.
The National Hurricane Center is the only government source that has a right to issue names to tropical systems in the Atlantic and East Pacific, yet other third-party sources (who will not be named) assign their own names.

Several parties assigning different names decimates information.
Let's make a hypothetical storm that has just formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a hurricane, and the NHC has named it 'Helga' (a random name used solely for informative purposes). However, The Weather Channel and other sources have named the storm 'Michael', 'Shirley' and 'Ollie'. How is a person supposed to identify a single storm when FOUR DIFFERENT names are being thrown around? What would you call it?
Are you able to keep track of four different names at the same time? Your answer should be no, as that would be like texting, shaving, brushing your teeth and driving all at once. Why should any source other than the government give out a name? All it does is severely decimate the informative process- I wouldn't be able to keep track of four names. If my life was at risk, whether it be from hurricane or blizzard, I wouldn't want to have to remember 4 separate names just to get information.

Winter storms don't need names.
Honestly. Why would you ned to name a winter storm? The blizzard that struck the Midwest in February 2011 did not have a name, and the storm worked out to be called the 2011 Chicago Blizzard in some aspects, also called the Groundhog Day Blizzard for others.
Are you really going to want to tell your friends and family 'The snowstorm Helga is coming! Hunker down!' If that sounds absurd, you bet it actually is. What conveys information better out of the following two statements:

1. Helga is bearing down on the region, and will dump 1 foot of snow tomorrow.
2. A snowstorm is bearing down on the region, and will dump 1 foot of snow tomorrow.

To be honest, I have the utmost respect for The Weather Channel- they have some great meteorologists. However, this naming system strikes a nerve that tells me this won't work out. I have been surfing the web and found a general consensus that this is a bad idea. Again, I love those at TWC- it's some of the content that doesn't sit well with me.



WinterStorm said...

This post sums up my thoughts exactly. Naming winter storms is absolutely absurd. Especially when The Weather Channel is doing it. Maybe the NWS can get a new branch called the National Winter Weather Service if they're going to start naming winter storms. They need to stop this before it even starts. I think what we've been doing is just fine. Blizzard of 96, SuperStorm of 93, Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011 are just fine in my book.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that this is a bad idea. I think that TWC is doing this mainly to gain media attention and viewers. I didn't read the entire article on their page, but I sure hope they aren't going to name 6 inch snow storms. Also, I like the past names given to snow storms like Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011 or Snowmageddon. Now we have to put up with names like Brutus and Gandolf!!

Lights and Flights said...

At least one TV station in Connecticut has been doing this for years. Now Connecticut is a small state and when a storm hits it, it is usually a hit to a substantial part of the state. However, as somebody who now lives in New York, it is incredibly confusing. Take last year's storm (yes that's singular): Octsnowber, Snowlaween, we all know what storm that was. But talk to somebody from CT and its "Alfred" or something like that. Now add in that the A name storm in the Northeast might be the H storm nationwide and we have the confusion that you speak of. Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that over the course of a normal to severe winter, the nation as a whole will experience more than 26 storms. Do we start back at A again? This leads to more confusion. All in all, I agree that this is a horrible idea, especially on a national level.

mike paulocsak said...

I also agree with you guys above me.The GREAT LAKES HURRICANE storm that occured way back in Nov.9-11 1913,the GREAT THANKSGIVING storm that occured way back in Nov.23-27,1950.This storm shut down Ohio for seceral days.The blizzard of of 1977.The GREAT BLIZZARD also known as the 1978 blizzard.The March 13,1993 sorm also known as the STORM of the century or 1993 superstorm.The 1996 Blizzard that hit the eastern parts of the country.And everyone that lives in the Ohio Valley,Mid-Atlantic,and also the Northeast cannot forget this one.The President's Day Blizzard in 2003.This was a storm that produced any where from a few inches of snow to over four feet in parts of Garrett county Maryland.Now these particular storms are ones that will go down in the history books.The reason why these storms are named the way the are is because they impacted everyday lives and also how strong they were! As for naming winter storms, I also agree with the two comments above me,it's crazy!

Anonymous said...

And how are they going to decide which storms to name, and which not to name? Do you choose to name the storm that dumps 2 feet of snow in remote areas of the Northeast, or do you name the storm that dumps 2 feet of snow on a city such as Boston? Over the course of a winter, there will be many storm systems, so which do you name? It's very obvious which tropical cyclones to name, but not so with winter storms.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with you! You have proven yourself over and over again to be one of the most credible weather sources I have ever come across. Again, you have put into words what I am thinking. Keep up the great work! You are providing an amazing service.

Logan said...

Like a lot of people seem to, I agree. Also how will that decide which storms to name? Like one that closes down a smaller city due to ice or something, or one that brings a bunch of snow to a big city.

Also I'm always watching TWC and like it, but their stuff on there has been so annoying recently!!

Anyway, I agree and thanks for mentioning this :)

Anonymous said...

WGME 13 in Maine tried this a couple of years ago. They used anchor names for the storms and it turned into a mess. Felicia ended up being a mixed bag of rain and sleet. Kim was nasty from the start. Needless to say, naming did not return for a second winter.