Average 20 year old weather nerd. Plymouth State University Meteorology, Class of 2018. NOAA Hollings scholar. Summer 2016 intern at NWS Boston.
By: MAweatherboy1 , 1:45 AM GMT on November 09, 2012
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.
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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