The Lookout

Weather Channel’s call to name winter storms spurs mixed reviews

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Winter storm in Washington, D.C. (AP/file)

Move over, Snowmageddon, major winter storms to hit the U.S. will now have genuine given names like Nemo, Yogi and Zeus. So says The Weather Channel.

Government agencies have officially named tropical storms and hurricanes for more than 60 years, but not winter storms in the United States.

Tuesday morning, the cable television network devoted entirely to weather announced it will be the baby's daddy (so to speak).

"Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events," the network said on its website, Weather.com. "The fact is a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation."

Since the timing and impact of blizzards and big snows can be unpredictable, The Weather Channel said the naming of winter storms will be limited to no more than three days before to be sure the system is one that will have a significant effect on large populations.

"The process for naming a winter storm will reflect a more complete assessment of several variables that combine to produce disruptive impacts including snowfall, ice, wind and temperature," it said. "In addition, the time of day (rush hour vs. overnight) and the day of the week (weekday school and work travel vs. weekends) will be taken into consideration in the process the meteorological team will use to name storms."

Weather.com powers Yahoo's forecasts and other weather information.

Tuesday's announcement created a buzz in weather circles.

Meteorologists at AccuWeather, a Weather Channel competitor, expressed a concern that "the lack of criteria given for naming storms means that named storms could just confuse people."

Veteran Alabama weatherman James Spann tweeted that naming storms "needs to be coordinated with NWS and other private sector interests for sure."

But Jon Nese, who teaches meteorology at Penn State, tweeted, "From a 'weather communication' standpoint, I'm OK with this."

A spokeswoman at the National Weather Service told Yahoo News the federal agency would have no comment on The Weather Channel's decision.

Weather.com says its meteorologists have 26 names ready to go. Most have a Greek/Roman theme like Helen, Plato and Draco.

Pundits were aplenty. The Twitter hashtag #RejectedTWCNames produced a flurry of funny responses (many from meteorologists):

Winter Storm iPhone - you're all excited before it gets here, but then all you do is complain about it. - Rick Smith ‏@ounwcm

Winter Storm Tebow. The winter storm that won't go away, no matter how mediocre it is. - Stephen Nehrenz ‏@StephenNehrenz

Winter Storm "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo": Amounts to nothing, but Georgia goes nuts over it anyways. - John Boyer ‏@boyerweather

Winter Storm Eyewitness News - sits at the intersection at the bottom of the icy hill waiting for accidents to happen. - Marc Foster ‏@mfosterftw

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