Monday, February 11, 2013

Naming Winter Storms

Photo by Jason Meredith.

I was a bit surprised last week when the winter storm that was heading for the northeast was dubbed "Nemo." Since when do we name winter storms? As someone who grew up in western New York and lived through plenty of lake effect snow storms and big blizzards, I don't remember a storm getting named unless it was a huge event, and even then they weren't name until AFTER they passed through. And let's face it, the names weren't very creative—the Blizzard of 1977 being a prime example.

Apparently the Weather Channel has decided that we should name winter storms. Here's an excerpt from their web site addressing this issue.
Hurricanes and tropical storms have been given names since the 1940s. In the late 1800s, tropical systems near Australia were named as well. Weather systems, including winter storms, have been named in Europe since the 1950s. Important dividends have resulted from attaching names to these storms:
  • Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.
  • A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
  • A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.
The article raises some really interesting issues. Of course, the teacher in me wants to know how this fits into the curriculum. I do think this topic provides a nice teachable moment.

You can read more about this issue at Why The Weather Channel is Naming Winter Storms.

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