Thursday, October 4, 2012

Naming Winter Storms

Many have asked me about The Weather Channel's decision to name winter storms. Since we've already had a major winter storm (MN and WI) without a name, it seems like their plan wasn't very well thought out. My employer, AccuWeather, has issued the statement below:

In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety and is doing a disservice to the field of meteorology and public service. We have explored this issue for 20 years and have found that this is not good science and importantly will actually mislead the public. Winter storms are very different from hurricanes.

Hurricanes are well-defined storms following a path that can be tracked and predicted. By contrast, winter storms are often erratic, affecting different areas unevenly. Winter storms often develop, dissipate, and reform with two to three centers, often delivering snow in only one quadrant, while places not too far away from a blizzard may experience rain or fog, or nothing at all. As a result, the public will not know what action to take when there is a ‘named’ storm, or may take the wrong action.
--- Dr. Joel N. Myers, Founder and President


  1. Another concern that may be overblown, but needs to be addressed: Many homeowner's insurance policies now charge much higher deductibles for damage due to "named storms". This clause is aimed, of course, at hurricane/tropical storm damage and usually specifies that the storm has to be named by the NHC or NWS.

    However, if this notion of naming non-tropical storms catches on, I would not put it past some companies to start invoking the "named storm" clause for damage attributable to heavy snow, ice, or thunderstorm winds/hail in the warm sector of a storm. Did TWC not consider this possibility?


  2. Don't know what TWC had in mind other than getting publicity for itself.

  3. The precedence for this is NWS Buffalo routinely will 'name' significant Lake Effect storms, but they do so after the fact.

  4. This was a horrible decision. It seems to me that TWC just wants people to think that they are a governing force over United States dissemination of weather information. Now, don't get me wrong they do certainly play a vital part in keeping people safe and weather aware but I don't see what gives them the right to "name" storms. Unfortunately it will more than likely catch on.