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Forget 'Snowmageddon': Weather Channel to assign names to winter storms

By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

1:17 PM EDT, October 2, 2012

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The massive snowstorm that blanketed Baltimore and much of the northeast in February 2010 garnered the name "Snowmageddon" from social media users suffering from extreme cabin fever. This winter, how about storms named Brutus, Iago, Helen or even Q?

Those are some of the names on a list the Weather Channel released Tuesday to assign to snow and ice storms during winter 2012-2013. The channel created the list to "better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events," according to a post on its website.

Weather Channel forecasters plan to name systems no more than three days before they are expected to impact major urban areas. Whether a storm gets a name will also depend on when it's expected to hit, such as during rush hour travel versus overnight or on a school day versus over the weekend, according to the website posting.

The Weather Channel likened itself to the National Hurricane Center as officials reasoned that while there is an official authority on the summer and fall storms, there isn't one on blizzards and ice storms -- but that perhaps, there should be. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., produces short-term winter storm forecasts and issues storm watches, but it doesn't name winter storms.

"[I]t would be a great benefit for a partner in the weather industry to take on the responsibility," the Weather Channel's Tom Niziol wrote. "We have the meteorological ability, support and technology to provide the same level of reporting for winter storms that we have done for years with tropical weather systems."

Henry Margusity, a senior meteorologist with Weather Channel competitor AccuWeather.com, criticized the naming initiative on his Twitter account Tuesday. 

"The naming scheme has been debated for years and the end conclusion was that it just made things confusing," he said in one tweet.

"Frankly, I have just one name for a major winter storm...BIG DADDY! When a Big Daddy is coming, you all know it!" he wrote in another tweet.


Many of the Weather Channel's planned storm names come from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as literature, history, and, in the case of "Q", a New York City subway line. Just like the annual lists of hurricane names, the list is alphabetical with one name corresponding to each letter of the alphabet.

Read the full list of names here.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.