The Weather Channel meteorologists Tom Niziol, Peter Neilley and Stu Ostro have determined that a storm expected to soon hit a large swath of states in the Rockies, Foothills and Plains fits all the criteria to be named Winter Storm Atlas. It is the first named storm of the 2013-14 winter weather season.
The decision was based on the current level of forecast confidence, expected effects meeting National Weather Service winter storm warning criteria across a sizable area and this storm being of notable magnitude for so early in the season.
A few spots, especially in the higher elevations, could receive even higher amounts than the forecast 12 to 18 inches in parts of Wyoming if the cold air comes in quickly enough. As the event draws nearer and the forecast for the later hours of the snowstorm become more clear, the projected accumulations may rise or fall.
Wind will be a factor, and also the heavy, wet nature of the snow in some places could result in tree damage and power outages.
In addition, though not a factor in naming, the storm on its warm side will produce heavy rain and the threat of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.
MORE: Relive the 2012-13 Named Winter Storms
Winter Storm Athena
The storm that followed closely behind Superstorm Sandy left huge snowfall totals in some areas. Leading the way were Monroe and Clintonville, Conn., receiving 13.5 inches of snow each. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)