Major U.S. Winter Storms to get names

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:50 PM GMT on October 02, 2012

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October is here, and its time to start thinking about how the coming winter's storm might compare to mighty blizzards of years past. Do you remember the North American blizzard of February 4, 2010? No? Well, do you remember Snowmageddon, the massive February 2010 Nor'easter that dumped up to 38" of snow in the mid-Atlantic, and killed 41 people? The two storms are the same, but having a simple name for the snowstorm like "Snowmageddon" helps us identify and remember the impacts of the storm. Naming a major winter storm makes even more sense if it is done before the storm hits, to aid in raising awareness of the storm, and to reduce the risks the public faces. That's exactly what The Weather Channel is going to do for the U.S. this winter, they announced in a press release today. A group of senior meteorologists at The Weather Channel chose 26 names for the upcoming winter of 2012 - 2013. The only criteria was to select names that are not and have never been on any of the hurricane lists produced by the National Hurricane Center or National Weather Service. Naming of a winter storm will occur no earlier than three days prior to it hitting, to ensure there is strong confidence that the system could have significant impact on large populations. There is no national center for monitoring winter storms like we have for hurricanes with the National Hurricane Center, so I think it makes sense for The Weather Channel to take this step.


Figure 1. Snowmageddon in Maryland: February 4, 2010. Image credit: wunderphotographer chills.

U.S. winter storm names for winter of 2012 - 2013
Athena -- The Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspirations, justice, mathematics and all things wonderful

Brutus -- Roman Senator and best known assassin of Julius
Caesar -- Title used by Roman and Byzantine Emperors 

Draco -- The first legislator of Athens in Ancient
Euclid -- A mathematician in Ancient Greece, the Father of Geometry
Freyr -- A Norse god associated with fair weather, among other things

Gandolf -- A character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside

Helen – In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus

Iago -- Enemy of Othello in Shakespeare’s play, Othello

Jove -- The English name for Jupiter, the Roman god of light and sky.

Kahn -- Mongolian conqueror and emperor of the Mongol Empire

Luna -- The divine embodiment of the moon in Roman mythology

Magnus -- The Father of Europe, Charlemagne the Great, in Latin: Carolus Magnus 

Nemo -- A Greek boy’s name meaning “from the valley”, means “nobody” in Latin 

Orko -- The thunder god in Basque mythology

Plato -- Greek philosopher and mathematician, who was named by his wrestling coach

Q -- The Broadway Express subway line in New York City

Rocky -- A single mountain in the Rockies

Saturn -- Roman god of time, among other things who had a planet named after him

Triton -- In Greek mythology, the messenger of the deep sea, son of Poseidon

Ukko -- In Finnish mythology, the god of the sky and weather

Virgil -- One of ancient Rome’s greatest poets

Walda -- Name from Old German meaning “ruler”

Xerxes -- The fourth king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Xerxes the Great

Yogi -- People who do yoga

Zeus -- In Greek mythology, the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and the gods who lived there

I expect that this year The Weather Channel will be pretty conservative about assigning names, and only the very strongest winter storms will get named. For the eastern 2/3 of the country, storms that receive a ranking of "notable" or higher on NOAA's Regional Snowfall Index (RSI) or Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) are the only ones fairly certain to get named this winter. We only had one such storm during the winter of 2011 - 2012 (Snowtober, on October 29 - 31, 2011.) Thus, if we have another wimpy winter like last winter, we probably won't get to see the Wrath of Khan.

Naming of Winter Storms in Europe
Various organizations in Europe have been naming their winter storms since 1954, and the public has reacted positively to this practice. The names given by the Free University of Berlin are the most widely used, and have been in existence since 1954. Their meteorologists traditionally name all lows and highs that influence the Central European weather. In November 2002, the Free University began an Adopt-a-Vortex scheme, which allows anyone to buy a storm name. The money raised is used by the meteorology department to maintain weather observations at the university. Over 1,800 participants from 15 European countries plus Brazil, Japan and the United States have participated. So far in 2012, 90 European low pressure systems have been given names.


Figure 2. A huge wave from Winter Storm Klaus rolls into Santander, Spain, in this wunderphoto taken by wunderphotographer lunada on January 24, 2009. Klaus had a central pressure of 967 mb at its peak on the morning of January 24, and brought sustained winds of 59 mph, gusting to 81 mph, to Santander. Wind gusts as high as 124 mph (199 km/hr) occurred along the northern coast of Spain, and the storm killed at least 26 people in Spain, France, and Italy.

Naming of Lake Effect Winter Storms by NWS Buffalo
Tom Niziol, The Weather Channel's winter storm expert, was meteorologist-in-charge of the Buffalo, New York NWS office until January 2012. He tells me that for over ten years, the Buffalo NWS has been naming lake-effect storms. This was done only after the event occurred, to avoid any confusion, but was very popular with users. The names were chosen on a yearly basis by having the office staff vote for one of several themes--such as insects, heavenly bodies, famous scientists, minerals, Native American tribes, etc. Last winter, eight storms were named after breeds of cows (?!), as seen at the NWS Buffalo Lake Effect web page. I was not asked to contribute to this year's list of U.S. winter storms, but will lobby for next year's list of names to be taken from famous monsters--Rodan, Ghidorah, Nessie, Kong, Bunnicula, etc.


Figure 3. The most significant lake-effect snow storm of the winter of 2011 - 2012 was named Lake Effect Storm Evolene by the NWS office in Buffalo, New York. Image credit: NWS Buffalo Lake Effect web page.

Nadine
The Methuselah of Atlantic tropical storms, Tropical Storm Nadine, is slowly weakening over cool 22 - 24°C waters. Nadine will have accumulated 20 days as a tropical cyclone later today, but the end is in sight. Wind shear will rise to 30 knots and ocean temperatures will drop to 20°C by Thursday, which should cause Nadine to transition to an extratropical storm as it passes by the northern Azores Islands on Thursday and Friday.

96L off the coast of Africa no threat to land
A tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa over the weekend (Invest 96L) has a moderate amount of spin and a large area of heavy thunderstorms that is growing more organized. The storm is located about 925 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, and is headed northwest at 10 - 15 mph. Wind shear is a moderate 10 knots, and is predicted to remain light to moderate, 5 - 15 knots, through Friday. The atmosphere surrounding 96L is fairly moist, and the disturbance does have a good degree of model support for becoming a tropical depression by late in the week. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression by Thursday morning. 96L is likely to get pulled northwards by a large trough of low pressure over the Central Atlantic late this week, and should not be a threat to the Lesser Antilles Islands.

Jeff Masters

Hubby Tries to Clear the Snow. (Proserpina)
Hubby tried to use the snow-blower to clear the snow, unfortunately for him the snow is too deep for the snow-blower. The shovel and his arms will have to do the job.
Hubby Tries to Clear the Snow.
Blizzard 2010 (TonyInDC)
Blizzard  2010

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Quoting goalexgo:
I do NOT like the idea of naming winter storms. That is preserved for the greatest of all storms, the tropical cyclone.

Where does it end? West coast storms named after hollywood actors?

Really nice weather systems like High Pressure System Marv?

Nothing is sacred, and I am very disapointed that this community is not up in arms over this horrific situation.


Oh please, what is the worst that could happen?
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Quoting goalexgo:
I do NOT like the idea of naming winter storms. That is preserved for the greatest of all storms, the tropical cyclone.

Where does it end? West coast storms named after hollywood actors?

Really nice weather systems like High Pressure System Marv?

Nothing is sacred, and I am very disapointed that this community is not up in arms over this horrific situation.


There are cases where naming winter storms actually doesn't sound too bad. A formal branch would make the whole process easier, who knows what the future has in store. As for where it ends probably right about here as larger scale winter storms and tropical systems are a little more predictable than severe weather outbreaks imo.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7940
Quoting Slamguitar:


North American Blizzard of 2006
Thanks.Now my memory is refreshed.We got about 10" but really didn't matter as we were leaving for the ski trip :D.That was one very ironic situation.Leaving snow to go to even more snow.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16824
Quoting unknowncomic:
More training rains on Florida SE coast. Need to look up all time yearly rainfall records if this keeps up.
I posted them last night. Basically, the 4 SE counties are 5-10 inches away from all-time all-time annual with almost 3 months to go.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thank you Sky. for your answer--post#422.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7500
Quoting washingtonian115:
I forgot what storm that was?.


North American Blizzard of 2006
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting Astrometeor:


Some of the guys in chat are the most frequent posters on this blog. Go in and talk to them sometime.

I am hoping for 4-8 inches of snow this year. And days off of school.


We are and then trolls come into chat...

Anyway I think this winter will be different than the last as more cold shots are looking like a possibility.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7940
Quoting Thing342:
Theoretically, the naming system is going to be used on major systems such as this: This is supposed to help garner awareness and to aid reports on these kinds of storms. My major qualm is the fact that a private company is assigning names, not a gov't agency like the NWS. Otherwise, it is a good idea, as long the names are given out appropriately.
I forgot what storm that was?.
Quoting Skyepony:
beell~ The first didn't work, the second is total cruise ship spam & the third a water heater commercial...



We've been rooting for her in my blog. There is some good Nadine songs in there.
I don't think Nadine will reach the ultimate record "28 or 27 days" but she will definitely make a mark on her own.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16824
Quoting baltimorebirdsisback:
hello there.why the same people always hiding in the chat room? they don't like no one else? anywho i looking forward to winter this year.please nature give us someting!


Some of the guys in chat are the most frequent posters on this blog. Go in and talk to them sometime.

I am hoping for 4-8 inches of snow this year. And days off of school.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
440. Skyepony (Mod)
beell~ The first didn't work, the second is total cruise ship spam & the third a water heater commercial...

Quoting washingtonian115:
Nadine just refuses to let go.She is not stopping unless on her own terms it seems.


We've been rooting for her in my blog. There is some good Nadine songs in there.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37820
Quoting goalexgo:
I do NOT like the idea of naming winter storms. That is preserved for the greatest of all storms, the tropical cyclone.

Where does it end? West coast storms named after hollywood actors?

Really nice weather systems like High Pressure System Marv?

Nothing is sacred, and I am very disapointed that this community is not up in arms over this horrific situation.

Theoretically, the naming system is going to be used on major systems such as this: This is supposed to help garner awareness and to aid reports on these kinds of storms. My major qualm is the fact that a private company is assigning names, not a gov't agency like the NWS. Otherwise, it is a good idea, as long the names are given out appropriately.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nadine just refuses to let go.She is not stopping unless on her own terms it seems.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16824
435. Skyepony (Mod)
That same area in South America is getting whaled on again.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37820
434. Skyepony (Mod)
Awesome TRMM of NADINE. Click pic for very large quicktime movie.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37820
Quoting spathy:


Well I did read back some and that was my conclusion.
But I thought for sure(as usual) I was missing something.

Join the Club!

:):))
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Quoting spathy:


Do you remember the Presidents Day storm?
Ah yes that one!!.But it was soon over shadowed by the monster ones that came back in 09-10.I got 16" here at my house.Made a snow man and everything with the kiddies.Real fun.I remember a squirrel came and stole one of the carrots we used as the nose.Lol good memories indeed.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16824
429. ARiot
Editorial about TWC owning/trademarking winter storm names.
Link


Trademarking disaster.
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Quoting baltimorebirdsisback:
where everyone go/


I'm here, just in lurking mode...homework to do.

If the NWS gets ahold of the naming system, it will become far more organized and respected and used by more people than TWC's uber-fan club.
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426. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT missed 96L.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37820
I do NOT like the idea of naming winter storms. That is preserved for the greatest of all storms, the tropical cyclone.

Where does it end? West coast storms named after hollywood actors?

Really nice weather systems like High Pressure System Marv?

Nothing is sacred, and I am very disapointed that this community is not up in arms over this horrific situation.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting spathy:
This sentence in Masters header gives me pause.

"Naming of a winter storm will occur no earlier than three days prior to it hitting, to ensure there is strong confidence that the system could have significant impact on large populations"


The term hitting and Winter storms seems counter to how winter storms form and where they form.

I will have to read back some and read up even more to understand all I dont know about the WC process and criteria for naming storms.
ie: is there a wind/temp/precip threshold?
Is three inches of snow in Atlanta a criteria naming point etc...
Can someone point me to a comprehensive breakdown of how the Weather channel will execute this.
And what does the National Weather Service have to say about this?
Sorry... I am late to the conversation.

Well, if you read back some, you will see that it all appears quite vague and undecided....
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422. Skyepony (Mod)
BB~ Levi was bogged down in school.

You think 96L with be a TD at 11?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37820
Quoting baltimorebirdsisback:
Waiting for 96L to get named.Why people keep minusing my comments? im here to discuss weather to.hey angela how many storms you think we get this year?




may be if you chage you name too some in a tad more better may be they wont - your name has marh the name you have is more like what trolls would ues



some in too think about
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In my opinion, a private company naming storms arbitrarily by standards nobody knows, not even the self-appointed namers....seems like that's a slam-dunk silly idea that I'd expect to find in the Onion or on April 1. Add in the Greek names proposed and it gets worse.
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I was away for awhile, can anybody tell me what happened to Levi? Went to his web site, and it hasn't been up-dated since Sept. 4th, almost a month ago. Thanks.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7500
412. beell
Quoting angelafritz:


That's been my first response to all my meteorology friends who didn't like it. Pop culture has been naming them for years now! Why not make it official? :)


Who could forget SnOwMG?
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URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MISSOULA MT
556 PM MDT TUE OCT 2 2012

MTZ002-031200-
/O.CON.KMSO.WW.Y.0046.000000T0000Z-121004T0000Z/
WEST GLACIER REGION-
556 PM MDT TUE OCT 2 2012

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM MDT
WEDNESDAY ABOVE 4500 FEET FOR...MARIAS PASS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY ABOVE 4500 FEET REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL
6 PM MDT WEDNESDAY.

* IMPACTS/TIMING: A COLD FRONTAL SYSTEM WILL USHER COOLER
TEMPERATURES AND PRECIPITATION INTO THE AREA LATE TODAY AND
THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SNOW LEVELS WILL CONTINUE LOWERING THIS
EVENING WHILE SNOW DEVELOPS IN THE MOUNTAINS. SNOW LEVELS WILL
LOWER TO 4000 FEET WEDNESDAY MORNING WITH ACCUMULATING SNOW
OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN.

* WINDS: WINDS WILL BECOME NORTHERLY 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS UP
TO 45 MPH ONCE THE COLD FRONT PASSES THROUGH THE AREA BY THIS
EVENING...CAUSING BLOWING AND LOWER VISIBILITIES IN THE HIGHER
TERRAIN. LOGAN PASS IN GLACIER PARK WILL LIKELY EXPERIENCE
GUSTS UP TO 60 MPH THROUGH TONIGHT.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: 5 TO 10 INCHES OF NEW SNOW ABOVE 6000
FEET...WITH 2 TO 4 INCHES AT THE LOWER ELEVATIONS DOWN TO 4500
FEET BY WEDNESDAY EVENING.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW
WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES OVER MARIAS PASS AND
LOGAN PASS. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED
VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS
PLANNING ACTIVITIES IN THE HIGH COUNTRY SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR
SNOW...WIND AND UNSEASONABLY COLD CONDITIONS.

&&

$$
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Quoting TomballTXPride:

Oh yes. It does.

To whom?
The Weather Geeks, or the Ratings people ?

To me, if I was interested in Winter Storms, it would be an asset to be able to ID a storm by it's name (like is done for Tropical systems)

It surely would not matter to me what TWC ratings were.
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409. j2008
Quoting Slamguitar:


From what I've heard/read you are completely correct. Another reason why the NWS should do this and not TWC.
Agreed, Somebody needs to make official criteria for these winter storms, because here in Arizona and across the West US the type of weather you get in winter storms varys on your altitude. A place like Denver will get completely different weather than Phoenix in the same exact winter storm.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well this is just lovely news(major sarcasm).

Clean energy looks to still be on the attack from oil production. While I agree that we can't transition too fast from oil to cleaner energy because the whole world runs on it, producing increasingly more is not the solution either...



Link
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7393
Quoting j2008:
So I wonder if the west coast is going to get impacted by a storm, will it get named? I heard something earlier that these names will be used for the east coast pretty much exclusively.


From what I've heard/read you are completely correct. Another reason why the NWS should do this and not TWC.
Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Quoting j2008:
So I wonder if the west coast is going to get impacted by a storm, will it get named? I heard something earlier that these names will be used for the east coast pretty much exclusively.

What about Alaska? They get big winter storms almost constantly in the winter, bigger than what the rest of the US gets. Will we really name all of those?
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405. j2008
So I wonder if the west coast is going to get impacted by a storm, will it get named? I heard something earlier that these names will be used for the east coast pretty much exclusively.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Who came up with snowmeggadon? & all these other names we've been calling them?.. Atleast this list has 1/2 decent names on it..
Snowmeggadon was to hard for me to remember all though I do remember it snowing for at least 24+ hours and about 30" of snow in my yard...Then about 4 days after another storm came and dumped another 13"+ in my yard leaving us with 4- 5 feet of snow with 7-8 foot drifts and lots and lots of advil and heating/cooling pads...
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16824
Quoting Dragod66:
now what about them large storms that have caused so many tornado outbreaks? Will they be next?

There is a a fine line somewhere, we will discover it sooner or later.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7940
Quoting angelafritz:


We blog about all major weather events here on Jeff's blog. You can check out all of his blog posts (categorized!) here. You can see, there are quite a few topics.
That's a great link.
Thank you Angela.
Here's an old humorous blog from Jeff in 2010 that I think is a good one. Enjoy. Link
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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