Winter Storm Naming

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Winter storm naming in the United States has been used by The Weather Channel (TWC) since 2011, when the cable network informally used the previously-coined name ‘Snowtober’ for a 2011 Halloween nor’easter. In November 2012, TWC began systematically naming winter storms, starting with the November 2012 nor’easter it named ‘Winter Storm Athena.’ TWC compiled a list of winter storm names for the 2012–13 winter season. It would only name those storms that are ‘disruptive’ to people, said Bryan Norcross, a TWC senior director. TWC’s decision was met with criticism from other weather forecasters, who called the practice self-serving and potentially confusing to the public.

The U.S. government-operated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (a division of which–the National Hurricane Center–has named hurricanes for many years) and its main division–the National Weather Service (NWS)–did not acknowledge TWC’s winter storm names and asked its forecast offices to refrain from using them. The NWS spokesperson Susan Buchanan stated, ‘The National Weather Service does not name winter storms because a winter storm’s impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins.’

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