Winter storm naming in the United States

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Winter storm naming in the United States has been used by The Weather Channel (TWC) since 2011, when the cable network informally used the previously-coined name "Snowtober" for a 2011 Halloween nor'easter.[1][2][3][4] In November 2012, TWC began systematically naming winter storms, starting with the November 2012 nor'easter it named "Winter Storm Athena."[5] TWC compiled a list of winter storm names for the 2012–13 winter season. It would only name those storms that are "disruptive" to people, said Bryan Norcross, a TWC senior director.[6] TWC's decision was met with criticism from other weather forecasters, who called the practice self-serving and potentially confusing to the public.

Winter storm names[edit]

A few of the winter storm names used by March 2013 include Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Gandolf, Khan, and Nemo.[7][8][9] For the 2013-2014 season, The Weather Channel published a list of 26 more names to be used for winter storms, with the name Atlas as the first name of the season.[10] On October 2nd, 2014, The Weather Channel released 25 new names with the 26th "W" to be voted on by viewers.[11] As of the Weather Channel, these are the names for Winter Storms of 2014-15.[12]

  • Astro
  • Bozeman
  • Cato
  • Damon
  • Eris
  • Frona
  • Linus
  • Marcus
  • Neptune
  • Octavia
  • Pandora
  • Quantum
  • Remus
  • Sparta
  • Thor
  • Ultima
  • Venus
  • Wolf (unused)
  • Xander (unused)
  • Yuli (unused)
  • Zelus (unused)

United States government naming policy[edit]

The U.S. government-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (a division of which–the National Hurricane Center–has named hurricanes for many years) and its main division–the National Weather Service (NWS)–did not acknowledge TWC's winter storm names and asked its forecast offices to refrain from using the TWC names.[13] In a November 2012 memo, it requested that its employees avoid referring to storms by name.[1][14] NWS spokesperson Susan Buchanan stated, "The National Weather Service does not name winter storms because a winter storm's impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins."[15]

The National Weather Service office in Buffalo, New York named lake-effect snow storms in its coverage area through the 2012–13 season.[16] In 2013, the office removed references to its previous history of naming those storms and now only refers to the storms by date.

Private entity naming practices[edit]

Private weather forecaster AccuWeather disagreed with the practice of naming winter storms in 2013. AccuWeather president Joel N. Myers stated in February 2013, "The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety. We [...] have found this is not good science and will mislead the public."[8][17] In defense of TWC's practice, TWC's Norcross said, "The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation."[18]

In February 2013, media organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post stated that they would not use a name such as "Winter Storm Nemo" for the February 2013 nor'easter.[8][19] However, some outlets such as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's office used the Twitter hashtag "#nemo" to refer to the storm.[20] Tom Kines of AccuWeather stated, "The Weather Channel probably names the storms because it gets the publicity"; as a privately owned weather service, TWC relies on its TV audience and page views for revenue.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Palmer, Roxanne (February 8, 2013). "What's In A Storm Name? Weather Channel Policy Draws Critics, But Catches On". International Business Times. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ Stelter, Brian (February 8, 2013). "A Storm Is 'No One,' and Means Very Little". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Epstein, David (2013-02-11). "Historical snowstorm yes, blizzard no". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  4. ^ "Nemo Controversy: Should We Name Every Big Storm?". Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  5. ^ Freeman, Andrew (October 2, 2012). "Weather Channel Announces Plan to Name Winter Storms". Weather Central. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Semuels, Alana (February 9, 2013). "Weather Channel finding Nemo is creating storm among meteorologists". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013. [dead link]
  7. ^ "It’s Not a Storm Until the Weather Channel Names It". The Daily Beast. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  8. ^ a b c Newman, Jared (February 9, 2013). "Don't Call that Storm 'Nemo'? Twitter Begs to Differ". Time. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Stelter, Brian (February 7, 2013). "A Fish, Er, Storm Named Nemo". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "Winter Storm Names 2013-14: What They Are and What They Mean". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  11. ^ "Weather Channel announces winter storm names, reigniting debate over their value". 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2014-10-05. 
  12. ^ "Winter Storm Names 2014-2015: What They Are and What They Mean". The Weather Channel. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ "What's the big deal with naming winter storms?". Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ Walter, Marcus (November 7, 2012). "National Weather Service says no to naming storms". WKYC-TV. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Why Your Weatherman Is Protesting the Name 'Nemo' - National". The Atlantic. 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  16. ^ Lake Effect Page. National Weather Service Buffalo office (June 28, 2013). Retrieved from the Internet Archive March 22, 2015.
  17. ^ Samenow, Jason (2012-10-03). "TV weathercasters criticize unilateral action by The Weather Channel on storm naming". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  18. ^ Niziol, Tom (November 11, 2012). "Why The Weather Channel is Naming Winter Storms". The Weather Channel. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  19. ^ Stelter, Brian. "A Storm Is 'No One,' and Means Very Little". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  20. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (February 8, 2013). "'Nemo' May Be Weather Channel's Name For Northeast Blizzard, But Most Other Outlets Aren't Biting". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2013. 

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