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Stormin’ into Town

Autumn is just beginning to make its presence known here in New Jersey. The days are getting cooler and less humid. Leaves are just beginning to show the first signs of changing color. Winter is still more than 2 months away and we haven’t even had a frost yet. Despite this, The Weather Channel has announced a change in how they will be reporting winter storms. Blizzards and other significant winter storm systems deserve the same type of personalized attention that tropical storms and hurricanes have long enjoyed. No longer will the enthusiastic meteorologists stand in front of their maps referring to a generic winter storm. These storms shall be given names.

The Weather Channel contends that naming a storm will make it easier to refer to and increases viewers’ awareness about the upcoming storm.  Perhaps giving a storm a name makes it more relatable. During major snow events in the past, storm nicknames have evolved on their own. The Northeast’s surprise October snowstorm last year was referred to as “Snowtober” and the multi-day snow dump in the winter of 2010 has been called “Snowmaggedon.”

I don’t know for sure how this list of winter storm names came to be, but I can use my imagination.  Perhaps meteorologists were bored with reporting heat waves and drought conditions this summer.  With hurricane season approaching, a creative meteorologist thought it would be fun to name winter storms, too. While sitting around in a room full of colorful radar screens, these scientists amused themselves for hours choosing names to be included on the list. Winter storms need a better image. The idea began to take hold so they decided to go public with it.

There appears to be much debate among members of the meteorological community regarding the scientific merits of naming winter storms.  I’ll leave the details of the controversy to more scholarly blogs and people who understand weather. The validity of the science behind this idea is not nearly as entertaining as the actual list of names they selected.

The list contains 26 culturally diverse names, one for each letter of the alphabet. These names will be used to refer to significant winter storms during the 2012-2013 season. I’m all for infusing fun into life, but the names they chose sound like a casting call for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies. Some of the names aren’t even proper nouns at all. They are common nouns like yogi (people who do yoga, not Yogi Bear), Rocky (identified as a single mountain in the Rockies, not Rocky Balboa) and Q (a New York City subway line.) It seems they might have been stretching a bit to find a “name” to fit each letter of the alphabet. Choosing the names of literary characters and notable ancients seems a bit lofty for a blizzard, but what concerns me is that several of the names they chose are those of assassins, conquerors and gods. (Click here to learn what each of these names means.)

The Weather Channel’s names for 2012-2013 winter storms.

In all fairness, names are subjective. Different names evoke different feelings in different people. Some names have negative associations and may remind you of an obnoxious co-worker or a bad blind date. Other names have positive associations and call to mind a kind, elderly neighbor who brings you fresh-baked cookies. To me, most of the names on this list seem threatening. Hearing that Xerxes the blizzard is headed for my area sounds intimidating. Dealing with winter weather is odious enough without being intimidated by the name of the storm that is bearing down on you.

I think The Weather Channel missed the mark. They could have had a contest to name the winter storms. Viewers and armchair meteorologists could have shared suggestions via email, Twitter and Facebook. They could have offered those snazzy Weather Channel parkas as prizes for winning names.  Since The Weather Channel didn’t ask for my suggestions, I have taken it upon myself to create a list of storm names with more innocuous associations; names that don’t strike fear into the hearts of the people in the storm’s path.

A – Agatha

B – Bertha

C – Cecil

D – Dottie

E – Esmerelda

F – Fifi

G – Gaylord

H –  Herbert

I – Irving

J – Joan

K – Kelvin

L – Lloyd

M – Mable

N – Nelson

O – Otis

P – Poindexter

Q – Quincy

R – Roscoe

S – Stewart

T – Trixie

U – Ursula

V – Velour (if the meteorologists can choose a common noun, so can I)

W – Waldo

X – Xavier

Y – Yvonne

Z –Ziggy

Don’t you think hearing, “Dottie the blizzard is approaching your area with whiteout conditions and a foot of snow,” sounds less threatening than Zeus the blizzard?

What names would you have chosen for the list?

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

49 responses »

  1. Storms don’t need names, but if they did, and I were in charge of naming them, I would use quite a few of your names. I particularly like Poindexter.

    • Now that winter has actually started, I’ve seen the meteorologists on The Weather Channel refer to storms by these names. Thankfully, the local weather people have ignored the list and are just calling a storm a storm.

      Thank so much for taking the time to read, comment and subscribe. Welcome to Good Humored!

  2. Hahaha…Your name list just cracked me up. 🙂

  3. I’ve always found the naming of storms to be completely ridiculous. These aren’t humans, these are STORMS! I wish they had a better way of keeping track of what storm was what.

    And Orko?! It’s a character from “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”

    • Paprika Furstenburg

      Thanks for the link. I had no idea who or what an Orko was. It just rolls right off the tongue. I’m sure that would be one of the first names I would think of if I was asked to give a list of names that begin with O.

      This whole idea of naming blizzards is so ridiculous. If they truly believe it is an easier way to inform the public, why not just number them?

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  4. I prefer your list of names a whole lot more than the real one. What were they thinking?

  5. Rip roarin’ Ronnie took the words right out of the mouth! I second her emotion.

  6. Maybe next they’ll name earthquakes.

    • Don’t give them any ideas. If they could figure out how to predict earthquakes, I’m sure they’d name them too.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Hope you’ll visit again soon.

  7. I like the idea of having storms named after butlers. Here are a few examples: Jeeves (of course), Winston, Harrington, James, Parker, Alexander, Geoffrey, Alfred, reginald, Rupert, Edward, Sinclair, and Randolph.

    I’m picturing those fear-mongering news anchors announcing the top news story – Blizzard Alexander is coming this way! Snow storm Randolph is ready to cover the region with 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff! Of course, the anchors would need to speak the name with an air of superiority, so it sounds right.

  8. Where I live, the meteorologists would be limited to naming three storms a year…and they’d still be wrong at least 50% of the time…

  9. Ziggy’s on the way. I’d look forward to him coming 🙂

  10. Oh, Pap, you are so funny and clever!! I had no idea they were naming the winter storms, and I hate that list!!! Your readers’ comments are so much better on all fronts (no pun intended!!)….and I agree that those names are way too scary to be associated with storms that are already scary!!! Your list was adorable!

  11. Personally I think winter storms should be named after great Rock albums. I just know that Q should be named Quadrophenia. And W should be Called The White Storm. OK, needs some work.

  12. Paprika, I’d hoped you were joking. But by Jove, you weren’t. What a silly idea. And I don’t mean that in a particularly nice way.

    My brother once shared a name with a hurricane, and he saved the front page of the local paper from the day it hit. The headline read: “Bob Is A WIMP”

  13. Once again, the Weather Channel changes the face of weather history. I notice that the backward-spelling names are conspicuously absent: Nevaeh, Acirema, Yorel?

  14. You didn’t use “Paprika” for the P storm, or “Ronnie” for the R storm, so a great opportunity has been lost for 2013.

    Don’t you think “Here comes Ronnie, raging and roaring, reckoning to rip the rims off all the Rolls Royces” sounds pretty good?

  15. Maybe a “Moses” storm would dump snow on lawns only?

  16. Frankly, Paprika, I think they’d be tuckered out trying to keep track of all the winter storms. I was surprised your list of names didn’t include any spices. 🙂

    I’ve enjoyed your columns and nominated you for The Lovely Blogger Award. The particulars for this award can be seen on my blog.

    • Thank you so much for the award, Judy. I’m so glad you enjoy my posts. I enjoy your comments.You’ve been such a loyal reader.

      Actually, I seriously considered using spice names for the storms. There’s always next winter 🙂

  17. One can only wonder what the determining factors will be that constitute a storm worth naming. Will it be the number on inches of white stuff, perhaps suggesting the use of Snow White and her illustrious band of dwarfs (of course I would prefer the first storm to be named “Doc”) or perhaps the determining factor would be whether schools were closed, in which case an academic subject would be in order, i.e. “Geometry” is approaching the northeast at a 90 degree angle and we expect nine inches of snow to pile up perpendicular to the horizontal ground. Whatever moniker they use to identify the winter weather, the fact remains it will need to be shoveled, plowed, salted or sanded. That is unless you are one of those lucky few who need not venture out into the madness and can just marvel at the winter’s beauty from the warmth of a fireplace-heated room…..(any guesses who that might be?)

    • One of the articles described what criteria The Weather Channel would use to distinguish a significant storm from one that is just inconvenient. Apparently, the population level of the area the storm will impact, day of the week and amount of snow falling are all factors.

      I do like your ideas for storm names, especially your description of a geometric blizzard.

      If you ever miss shoveling snow, you are always welcome to come shovel mine. I’m sure we’ll have plenty to go around.

  18. I had to check the date because I thought you were pulling a fast one on us and this was April 1st! Seriously, someone at teh weathre channel was too recently reading thir kids the Harry Potter books! There is no way they would have come up with Draco and Luna otherwise! This is so silly!

  19. I must admit, this could be as entertaining as naming nail polish or paint colors! Perhaps we could use some of the names that the stars use for their children. Moon Unit could be moving up from the south and dumping 3 ft. of snow. Or perhaps Apple is moving east with sleet and rain. Very creative.

  20. I think the whole idea of naming winter storms is ridiculous. Hurricanes and tropical storms have long-lived existences. A hurricane may form off the Cape Verde Islands, traverse the entire Atlantic Ocean, pass through the Caribbean Sea, head into the Gulf of Mexico, slam into the United States, pop out again into the North Atlantic, and even make a second landfall into Canada. Now, that’s a storm deserving of a name.

    A winter storm? Well, a bunch of cold air and a bunch of moisture form hundreds or thousands of miles away. Then they play their version of Ross and Rachel (will they get together or won’t they?) Greens explode into purples on all the forecast models and everyone rushes to the store to buy milk and bread. If they decide to get together, it can be exciting, but it only lasts a day or two.

    Images of the “Blizzard of ’88” (snowdrifts of 50 feet) or the “Blizzard of 1978″ (27” in Boston) bring to mind not just the power of the event, but the time and place, as well. Call me an effete weather snob, but I’d just give them a letter or a number; they’re not worthy of an entire name.

    • I knew you would have a special place in your heart for this topic. I also knew you’d be able to speak to the scientific controversy while I dealt with the goofy creative side of this idea. As always, you’re my favorite meteorologist. Your forecasts are always well explained and reliable.


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