Some meteorologists skeptical about Weather Channel’s plan to name winter storms

The Weather Channel | The New York Times | The Washington Post
The Weather Channel will name winter storms this year, which the network hopes “will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier.”

Coordination and information sharing should improve between government organizations as well as the media, leading to less ambiguity and confusion when assessing big storms that affect multiple states. It will even make it easier and more efficient for social media to communicate information regarding the storm resulting in a better informed public. And, on the occasion that different storms are affecting separate parts of the country, naming storms will allow for clearer communications.

Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our viewing public and our digital users.

The names it’s chosen for this year’s storms conform with the latter point; they’re fun and often quite badass: Who wouldn’t look forward to tweeting about the horrors Winter Storms Gandolf or Draco are visiting on their neighborhood?

A Metropolitan Transport Authority spokesperson in New York was not terrifically jazzed about Winter Storm Q — yes, just “Q” — which was named for the New York subway line: “We’re always leery of anything that equates a remarkably well-run subway system with disruptions to millions of people across the country,” Adam Lisberg told The New York Times’ Matt Flegenheimer.

Some meteorologists who do not work for the Weather Channel are likewise unimpressed. Jason Samenow collects reactions from several.

Samenow quotes WJLA-TV’s Bob Ryan, who wrote, “there was, from everything I have learned, NO coordination of this decision to name winter storms with the National Weather Service or any of the professional groups such as the Weather Coalition, groups within the AMS or NWA. Our shared goal is to communicate the best weather information so that everyone will make the best weather related decision.”

“The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety,” AccuWeather CEO Joel Myers said in a statement.

The Weather Channel points out “In fact, in Europe the naming of weather systems has been going on for a long time.” That practice does not always yield a storm name that’s safe for the whole family.

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