Winter Storm Nemo, a.k.a. the blizzard going on outside for tens of millions of Americans, is doing its thing. But why does a big snowstorm need a name?
You can thank The Weather Channel alone for the moniker, it turns out.
It also turns out that the National Weather Service is not amused.
The massive New York / Northeast / New England snow storm will be among the biggest on record, but the region has seen plenty of snow in the past.
Why is this one so special? And why Winter Storm Nemo of all names?
Here's the Weather Channel's rationale for naming the blizzard:
- Naming a storm raises awareness about it, and the weather
- Naming it makes it easier to monitor the system's progress
- A name gives it personality, which adds to the awareness
- A name makes it much easier to reference in communication
- A named storm is easier to remember and refer to later
It's not about marketing, or hype, or ratings, or generating more buzz for the Weather Channel, they say. Just doing their part for awareness and safety.
The Weather Channel defended the unusual move by saying it's just stepping up to tackle a task to benefit the public that the government won't:
"There is no national center, such as the National Hurricane Center, to coordinate and communicate information on a multi-state scale to cover such big events."
Therefore, they say, "it would be a great benefit for a partner in the weather industry to take on the responsibility of developing this new concept."
The National Weather Service doesn't see it that way.
After TWC first began the practice by coining Nor'easter Athena in November, the NWS put out a statement disassociating itself with the naming system.
The agency urged employees to "please refrain from using the term Athena in any of our products," while local meteorologists were also unimpressed.
Some wondered if TWC was just trying to parlay its peak audience during hurricanes - which are all named by the National Hurricane Center - into winter ratings.
The network denies this and insists it's just trying to help. It's true that #nemo is trending on Twitter right now, and that's easier to type than #blizzard. Maybe?
And why Nemo? TWC says Winter Storm Nemo is NOT named after Disney's Finding Nemo or the character in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
It say that Nemo is "A Greek boy’s name meaning "from the valley," and means "nobody" in Latin. So, yeah. Read into that however you like.
And stay safe people.