What's in a name? Apparently, the Weather Channel thinks there's something. This year marks a milestone, for this is the first winter season, winter 2012-2013, that major winter storms will have names. They will be the new hurricanes and tropical storms — just take Winter Storm Athena, or Euclid. But is this going to actually help increase people's awareness of storms? In many ways, naming winter storms sounds like a good idea, but it might actually make people more afraid than they need be.
There is no question we have entered a new age in regards to weather. Superstorm Sandy set numerous records after making landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 29, 2012. This storm was epic in its intensity and makeup; the damage and destruction caused by the storm topped $62 billion and counting. And with winter 2013 approaching, fear of a major, unprecedented storm has never been higher.
But should we live in fear? It is possible that the naming of winter storms will not cause a major stir in the world, and people will not panic. Life will go on as it always has. The goal of the Weather Channel in naming a winter system is to give make it easier to track and follow. But the other goal is to distinguish one storm from another, in case a storm takes on a distinct personality and becomes something unique.
This is not what is concerning. One of the main reasons the Weather Channel wants to name winter storms is so they can be easier to reference in social media, and in the age of social media, making sure everything can be referenced is a necessity. But one fear is that this might end up being overkill. Social media has become a monster all its own. Twitter is in itself a useful tool, but at the same time a nightmare.
We live in a world where we are constantly and continually inundated with information. Storms, namely winter storms, are a part of most people's lives. The Weather Channel is a respected organization, and one of the first places people turn to for weather related information, so their deciding to name winter storms was not taken lightly.
Naming winter storms for practical and informative purposes could be useful, but it could become a tool for social media to exploit, if not used carefully. No one disputes that we live in an age when weather and storms have taken a life of their own. But could this end up being too much? In the Twitter age, one Tweet can ruin a career and one's reputation. Only time will tell what Twitter will do for named storm systems.