The Weather Channel Unilaterally Decides Winter Storms Should Have Names Like ‘Q’ and ‘Gandolf’ | Smart News | Smithsonian

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The Weather Channel Unilaterally Decides Winter Storms Should Have Names Like ‘Q’ and ‘Gandolf’

The private broadcaster laid out their plan to start naming blizzards

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2010′s Snowmaggedon, as seen from space. Photo: NASA Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team

Yesterday morning, The Weather Channel unilaterally decided that they were going to start naming major winter storms in a program meant to parallel the naming of hurricanes and other tropical storms. Hurricanes are named by the World Meteorological Organization, a branch of the United Nations. The Weather Channel explains its project:

In addition to providing information about significant winter storms by referring to them by name, the name itself will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier.

On this year’s list of proposed names, the company chose gems such as Nemo and Draco, among others. The channel ties each of these to the ancient Greeks, but pop-culture references abound. Other options include “Q,” named for not for the Star Trek character but for  “he Broadway Express subway line in New York City,” and “Yogi,” for “eople who do yoga.” Yahoo!:

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 idea of naming storms seems to be a good one, and the practice has long been carried out in Europe. But this proposition has been met with mixed reviews. Meteorologist Dan Satterfield says that it “might have been a good idea” for The Weather Channel to talk to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society before they made their announcement.

The practice should lead to some interesting moments, though, as television meteorologists discuss the risks of winter storm Khan.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Here’s How Hurricane Naming Works
Climate Change and Winter Storms
Smithsonian Photographer Makes Great Sacrifice to Give Us Snow Photos

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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