Winter Storm Nemo Tracker: Should The Weather Channel Name Storms?

In November 2012, the Weather Channel listed the following five justifications for naming storms:

- Naming the storm raises awareness.

- Attaching a name to the storm makes it easier for audiences to follow the storm’s progress.

- A storm with its own name suddenly has a personality – which further raises awareness.

- In “today’s social media world,” naming a storm makes it easier to reference.

- A named storm is easier to refer to in the future.

According to the Weather Channel, “until now, there has been no organized naming system for these storms before they impact population centers,” preventing “fewer surprises and more preparation.”

They do raise one good point – that giving a storm a name allows for easy hashtag tagging of relevant posts on Twitter and other social media channels.

Additionally, the Weather Channel details their process for reaching the name, taking factors such as time of impact, an assessment of key variables such as snowfall, ice, wind, and temperature, and which day of the week the storm will hit.

However, none of these points seem like particularly useful points from a scientific or meteorological standpoint. Rather, the Weather Channel seems to be using named storms as a marketing vehicle – and doing so unilaterally. 

In an age of extreme weather, naming regular storms seems like a fearmongering tactic designed to drive traffic and views to the Weather Channel instead of a scientific consensus.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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