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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Named Winter Storms?

Named Winter Storms?

A few weeks ago, Farmers’ Almanac editor Peter Geiger took a call from a distraught reader who had just been hit by her insurance company with a “named storm deductible,” on the grounds that The Weather Channel had assigned a name to the winter storm that damaged her home.

The popular cable network began the practice of naming winter storms this past autumn. The first named storm was Athena, which hit the East Coast in early November. Though hurricanes have been named since 1945 by a variety of official agencies, most recently under the auspices of the international World Meteorological Organization, winter storms have never been named prior to this year.

When it announced the decision to begin doing so, The Weather Channel said there would be many benefits to assigning names to winter storms, including raising awareness, improving the ability to follow an individual storm’s progress using social media, and greater clarity of reporting when multiple storms strike different regions.

The decision drew some criticism, most notably from Joel Myers, founder and president of Accuweather, who believes naming winter storms will do more harm than good.

“In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety. We have explored this issue for 20 years and have found that this is not good science and will mislead the public. Winter storms are very different from hurricanes. Hurricanes are well-defined storms following a path that can be tracked. Winter storms are often erratic, affecting different areas unevenly. Their centers may not be well-defined. There may be multiple centers and they often shift. One area may get a blizzard, while places not too far away may experience rain or fog, or nothing at all. Naming a winter storm that may deliver such varied weather will create more confusion in the public and the emergency management community,” said Myers

The names the Weather Channel reserved for the 2012-13 winter season are: Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyer, Gandolf, Helen, Iago, Jove, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q, Rocky, Saturn, Triton, Ukko, Virgil, Walda, Xerxes, Yogi, and Zeus. So far, we’ve been through about half of these names. As I write this, winter storm Luna is battering the Mid-Atlantic states.

What do you think of named winter storms? Do you like it, or is it all just a bunch of hot (er, cold?) air?

13 comments

1 Paul Mack { 12.21.13 at 10:56 am }

Who said WTC is the arbiter of all that is meteorological ? Oh, WTC did. Nothing here but B. S.
This will make me less likely to watch them.

2 monica { 04.15.13 at 12:48 pm }

I believe it is just a media-hype thing to add to their audience and make it easier to get a share of social media. Named storms for hurricanes makes sense, but not for winter storms. Why don’t they do something useful instead of giving insurance companies an excuse not to pay and confusing people about what is occurring? If I want serious weather info, Weather Channel would be my last choice anyway.

3 christian { 03.09.13 at 7:59 am }

I personally think sticking to the weater as is, forget the names for winter storms. As one person wrote will you also be call a major hurrican that has covered our nation Obama

4 Carl Dippold { 02.26.13 at 4:23 pm }

I think it is rediculous. When we hear of a storm with a “name”, it’s meant to gain your attention. With every storm being named, people will become de-sensitized to the possible approach of truly dangerous storms. ie. tornadoes, hurricanes etc. Wise up weather channel.

5 Pat { 02.24.13 at 8:28 pm }

Some insurance companies can raise a deductable in the occurence of a named storm..
Check with your agent to make sure. I agree with accuweathers position..

6 Bernie { 02.17.13 at 10:37 am }

I believe it will be a problem with insurance coverage.

7 Michael { 01.31.13 at 10:12 pm }

When I first saw a named storm I thought it was some freak Hurricane. No no; Naming winter storms is not the way to go! Pretty soon we will have the AT&T storm, Neslie Quik storm, toilet bowl cleaner storm naming rights!

8 Brenda { 01.31.13 at 6:43 pm }

Im going to start naming heat waves and cold snaps too. Right now we’re going into cold snap Billy. Next is cold snap Chelsey

9 Bernie { 01.31.13 at 9:45 am }

If they’re going to name Winter storms, are they going to start naming thunderstorms too? How about tornadoes? Where does it end? Good grief!

10 Randy { 01.30.13 at 4:48 pm }

I wish that was all that I had to worry about.

11 Deric Erickson { 01.30.13 at 1:38 pm }

They (The Weather Channel) should stop naming the winter storms, because they are just providing Ins Company’s another way of getting out of paying to repair homes that are insured by them.

12 Bonnie Walton { 01.29.13 at 8:39 am }

I must agree with Kenny and Mr. Myers! Seems like a complete waste of time and very misleading in the long run. Our “Blizzard” turned up only 2 inches of snow, that was gone the next day! Would that even qualify as a storm? There’s enough uncertainty with winter weather without adding to the confusion.

13 Kenny { 01.28.13 at 12:31 pm }

I think it’s ridiculous, naming every single winter storm.

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