Why TWC Is Wrong To Name Winter Storms

By: MAweatherboy1 , 1:45 AM GMT on November 09, 2012

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There certainly has been a lot of fuss on the blog lately over The Weather Channel's naming of winter storms. I've laid out my position multiple times. When they first announced the idea, I took a close look at both sides of the argument, which is usually the best option. Initially, I would say I somewhat approved of the idea. But as I dug deeper, I realized what a bad idea it really was. The argument for naming winter storms is quite simple. It heightens public awareness and makes it easier to reference a storm rather than just calling it "that blizzard:". The problem is, that's where the advantages end, and where the long list of disadvantages begin. There's a lot of talk about the comparison of naming a winter storm and naming a tropical system. The difference is simple. The naming of a tropical cyclone occurs because an official United States agency, the National Hurricane Center, has a strict, inclusive definition of what qualifies as a tropical cyclone. Assigning a name then makes this system easier to track, refer to, etc. A winter storm does not have any criteria. There are all kinds of winter storms. A winter storm in the NW, like so called "Brutus", is much different from a Nor'easter that runs up the East Coast, such as "Athena". Furthermore, the NHC often carefully monitors a disturbance for tropical development for days before the development actually occurs. They will often track a named storm for 1-2 weeks after that. TWC, meanwhile, names winter storms suddenly, whenever they feel like it basically. These winter storms, particularly Nor'easters, often come and go in a matter of a couple days, not really enough time to heighten awareness and inspire storm preparation. My local TV mets up here were talking about this thing for days. Nothing changed after TWC named it. It doesn't do anything.

The likely reason for the naming of winter storms is, of course, ratings. I've stated before, TWC is, before anything else, a television channel. Without viewers, they don't exist. I have no problem with them doing things to draw more viewers. They've certainly attempted to modernize their lineup in recent years and while I'd prefer it the way it used to be, it's something I have little problem dealing with. Naming winter storms crossed the line though. This is a move that reeks of desperation. The fact is that most people don't want to watch the weather. For many, it's boring, complicated, and something that we are forced to live with. There are a select few of course, like us on this blog, who appreciate the awesome beauty and power of nature, and who have a true love of examining the processes which drive our weather. We're the TWC viewer base. Naming winter storms will not bring in more viewers. Nothing will really. The thing that bothers me is thinking about how the whole thing went down inside of TWC/NBC itself. It certainly wasn't Jim Cantore, or any of the other faces we're used to seeing on TWC everyday. It was some big doofus executive. I strongly believe Dr. Masters, as well as the majority of the real scientists at TWC, disapprove of the idea. The problem is, they're stuck with it. Obviously, unless you're a complete idiot, you're not gonna come out and publicly disagree with a major move by your boss. I sure as heck wouldn't.

I will never officially refer to a storm with a name assigned by TWC. I much prefer to stick with the opinion of the National Weather Service. I'm certainly glad (and not really surprised) that they have stood their ground and refused to acknowledge the TWC names. If anything, it will go the other way around and TWC will give up on the idea. I don't know if that will happen though. It would require TWC swallowing its pride big time, and I doubt they're willing to do that. This isn't the kind of thing that's going to make me stop watching TWC. I don't watch it as much as I used to, but I still check in from time to time, I like to keep it on in the background while I blog (like right now) and I watch it quite often during major weather events. It's just a disagreement. They have every right to name winter storms, right or wrong, and I have every right to disagree. Honestly I'm mostly just clearing my head of some clutter right now as I'm fighting a cold and a nasty little ear infection. But I felt I might as well put my opinion up publicly and back it up a little rather than get into excessive sparring on the blog. I'll be sticking to relevant weather there from now on.

Picked up close to 5 inches of snow yesterday, about a third of last years total. Most of it melted in the chilly rain we got today. I'm certainly hoping for more snow than last year, though I do feel quite guilty wishing for snow while knowing it will add further misery to those still recovering from Sandy. My wants won't change the weather though, so that makes me feel a little better...

I've been in the process of writing my end of hurricane season blog on and off for a couple weeks now. It will be out on December 1. Honestly, I'm pretty much tired of hurricane season at this point, and am ready for a nice change of seasons and tracking of more winter storms.

MAweatherboy1

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13. contrel
4:21 PM GMT on February 13, 2014
Quoting 1. wxchaser97:
..............We have to live with what we got though.


No, we dont. We do not HAVE TO watch the weather channel. I havent in years and have not been losing out on anything (except stupidity).
Member Since: February 13, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
12. Crand
1:09 AM GMT on January 22, 2014
Quoting 7. SPLbeater6:
They consist of a bunch of liberals, and you cant fix stupid. Lol.


Really? Liberals? What do political positions have to do with naming storms? Stupid can be fixed by not making comments like yours.
Member Since: December 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
11. oneill37
8:08 PM GMT on December 22, 2013
Still annoying year after year, and just as confusing. Woke up today and flipped through the channels to see "Gemini Freezing" in the corner of the screen (or something to that effect). Immediately I pictured a catastrophe in space, a NASA Mission gone wrong. Turns out, Gemini in this case, is not a lunar module or satellite but is the name of a relatively uneventful storm that produced some ice on the ground and trees. Just as it does many times during the winter here in the Adirondacks. It doesn't make it correct to name storms just because TWC does, now, as a staple. Other real weather services don't recognized this at all. It just makes it all more reckless. It's fine to be a pioneer but do so with some noteworthiness. The Weather Channel, once a true source for reliable weather forecasting is now just a "show". In order to enhance that show in an attempt to make it more relevant and exiting, it names winter storms. It does so at the risk of devaluing a real threat. Like the boy who cried wolf effect, many named storms that turn out to be duds will just undermine the importance of the real deal. Even if that storm produces a dusting of snow at best, which has happened in many cases where these storms were supposed to be relatively significant. TWC says it names storms that have certain criteria which all fall into what we have endured for years as snow accumulation and ice storms. Yes, your basic winter storm, some having more impact that others. What was wrong with picking out the worst storm of the season and calling it "The storm of 19--or 20--?" etc. I fear that naming these storms will draw complacency to the need for true attention when an actual catastrophic storm is eminent. Unfortunately, the Weather Channel has become a bastion of unwatchable competing personalities and more of a reality show than news media. Change for the sake of change is rarely for the better. Another abject sign of the times
Member Since: December 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
10. PANortheast
9:18 PM GMT on December 17, 2013
The naming of winter storms has a hidden agenda between the National Weather Service and the Insurance Industry. By naming storms the insurance companies can apply larger than normal deductibles to claims caused by wind and other perils. The result is another example of a government agency in collusion with insurance companies to cheat the consumer.
Member Since: December 17, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
9. PANortheast
11:29 AM GMT on December 17, 2013
The naming of winter storms has a hidden agenda between the National Weather Service and the Insurance Industry. By naming storms the insurance companies can apply larger than normal deductibles to claims caused by wind and other perils. The result is another example of a government agency in collusion with insurance companies to cheat the consumer.
Member Since: December 17, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
8. SiabotGuru
6:27 PM GMT on December 15, 2013
Agreed, What is the point of naming Winter Storms. They are not categorized like Tropical Depressions or Weather Systems and typically don't change much. Its much about the "Sky is Falling" sensationalism of the modern weather services at National or Local stations.

I've been over Network Weather Forecasting for 10+ years and just can't stand to listen to them talk about what may or may not happen.
Member Since: November 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
7. SPLbeater6
11:11 PM GMT on February 22, 2013
You are probably laughing at this since I am about 4 months behind...but I was wondering what the NWS had really said about this crap from TWC. Your blog kept coming up. :D

I disagree with naming storms, and you have done an excellent job putting out the reasons why(Another reason you are pretty much my favorite Wunderground blogger).About them swallowing their pride to give it up...I dont think so. They consist of a bunch of liberals, and you cant fix stupid. Lol.
Member Since: September 24, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
6. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
1:48 PM GMT on November 12, 2012
MAweatherboy1 has created a new entry.
5. MAweatherboy1
6:29 PM GMT on November 10, 2012
Appreciate everyone stopping in, like hearing your thoughts/ideas!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7727
4. wxgeek723
6:12 PM GMT on November 10, 2012
Great post! I totally agree with your stance and I love how the way you write sort of breathes more life into your blog, lmao.

When I was younger I actually loved the idea. I would follow NWS Buffalo's lake effect named storms and see what the theme was each year. When ever it snowed where I live I would name them, and go back through the archives and name those storms. Though I didn't use people names, I kind of stole the idea of a certain object theme each year, lol hey I was young.

As I grew out of it though, I realized storms named themselves. People in Chicago won't forget the Groundhog Day Blizzard 2011 any time soon, and I'm sure the Christmas Blizzard of 2010 is still fresh in New Yorkers' memories. Anybody where I live (southern Jersey) will recall Snowmageddon, the President's Day Storm 2003, or the Blizzard of '96. And if you ask some older folks they'll tell you about the Blizzard of '78.

I would expect the firestorm on the blog. There's an interesting mix of logic, science, hype, fear, blind enthusiasm, and just craziness there. No surprise a lot of them like the idea since I seriously think some of them get some sort of high off of naming hurricanes, lol. And I know how their mindset works because I used to think like that, and back then I would defend the naming of winter storms to the death.

I was going to let it slide and keep track of the names just to see how it went, but when I saw Dr. Masters' post "First Sandy, now Athena" it just really bothered me. It should be Sandy and then a nor'easter. I felt like the name Athena just demeaned the originality of Hurricane Sandy. Like standing next to a named hurricane, a named winter storm just seemed wrong ethically. Not to mention like you said, there's VARIOUS kinds of winter storms that affect the US.

Just a ploy for ratings. I really didn't want to keep track of TWC names but I realized so long as I frequent the blog I may have to deal with them. Annoying. Considering just withdrawing from keeping track of that blog. I follow it because they always have good information but whenever fights erupt or someone brings up social issues, they always express opinions that I STRONGLY disagree with, but that's another rant for another time.

I haven't really avidly watched TWC since maybe 2009, I do occasionally turn to them as big weather events unfold but they just aren't the same. I worry if this will escalate and true science will finally give way to media frenzy. Hope not.

TORNADO OUTBREAK LEX LUTHER STRIKES NEBRASKA!
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3545
3. airman45
5:23 PM GMT on November 10, 2012
Hello MA,

I also disagree with the naming of winter storms. Many are too short lived for this and, as you said, too varied in nature. At first I thought the NWS has endorsed this, but realized they did not. I live in Germany so I do not get TWC and had not kept up with the furor going on. I can only see this expanding and one day someone will start naming every thunderstorm!

In Europe the weather services (in Germany, anyway) do name winter storms and even strong high pressure systems. I do not know the history behind this but it has been done for a number of years. Of course they do not deal with tropical systems either.

Hope you feel better soon!
Member Since: April 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3506
2. MAweatherboy1
4:55 PM GMT on November 10, 2012
Quoting wxchaser97:
There definitely has been a lot of fuss over the naming of winter storms. I, however, think it is a good idea to name winter storms. Now how it is being done right now is something I don't really agree with. If the NWS or HPC was doing the naming I would be happier. We have to live with what we got though.

I would definitely be more open to an official agency doing it, and I think a lot of others would be too. TWC pretty much owns the idea now though so it's pretty unlikely the NWS/HPC will pick it up.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7727
1. wxchaser97
6:28 AM GMT on November 10, 2012
There definitely has been a lot of fuss over the naming of winter storms. I, however, think it is a good idea to name winter storms. Now how it is being done right now is something I don't really agree with. If the NWS or HPC was doing the naming I would be happier. We have to live with what we got though.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7940

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About MAweatherboy1

Average 18 year old weather nerd. Freshman at Plymouth State University, majoring in meteorology, with the goal of becoming a professional forecaster.

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