As most harried New Yorkers are by now aware—as well as folks around the entire country—the 2012-2013 winter storm season marks the debut of The Weather Channel’s [not-so-brilliant] storm naming system. Beginning with Winter Storm Athena back in the first week of November, The Weather Channel (TWC) has since christened various winter storms with absurd names, which have sparked a debate on the consequences of a widely-accepted and obvious marketing ploy.
Upon releasing a list of the 26 names chosen for 2012-2013, TWC stated that their goal is to “better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany” major winter storms. While at face value this may seem like a noble attempt to help millions of Americans keep track of the storms raging around our homes, the blatant cultural references found in nearly every name has left many begging to differ.
The list of names for 2012-2013—pulled directly from TWC website—is as follows:
Nearly every name can be instantly referenced to either some strain of mythology (Greek, Roman) or a recent pop culture phenomena. Gandolf: This corresponds perfectly with the recent release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Iago: Is that Shakespeare’s Iago, or Aladdin’s? Draco: As in Harry Potter’s nemesis, Malfoy? And my personal favorite, Nemo: Remember how the beloved Finding Nemo was released in 3-D back in September 2012?
Yeah. TWC remembers it too.
Whereas the National Hurricane Center follows a strictly-regulated list of names that is provided for several years into the future, TWC can hardly say the same.
Why is it ridiculous? Why can’t TWC have a little bit of fun and spruce things up?
Because storms should not be named just so that they can garner a larger social media presence. Yes, social media has revolutionized the way we all communicate, and has served innumerable benefits in sending information across our communities, both local and global. And while it is possible that one could first learn of a storm through Facebook, rather than a news organization, caution should be taken.
Is it better to get your news only from your Facebook feed, all clogged up with pictures from Finding Nemo, or from actual scientific data? Until the National Weather Service supports the naming system—which they vehemently refuse to do—TWC’s naming scheme will serve as nothing more than a marketing gimmick for what is truly no more than a cable channel.
If you need further proof, check out this Wikipedia’s article on the storm, titled “February 2013 nor’easter.” No matter how many professors instruct us that Wikipedia stems from Satan, we can agree that if Wikipedia doesn’t use the name “Nemo” until the end of their article, TWC has some rethinking to do.
[Image via maxhphoto / Shutterstock.com]