Nemo: The Name, The Storm, The Controversy

Winter Storm “Nemo” source: Wikipedia

You’ve heard the name many times since its inception to the point that NYC’s official 311 twitter has it: #nemo. I’m talking about the first winter storm to be given a name and as I type this, it’s really coming down hard. But not as hard as the backlash at the naming of this storm which means in historical context “no one”. On the Weather Channel’s own blog, there’s already a huge upheaval of people who regard the idea is ridiculous and more of a drive for ratings than actual information.

You can read it all here, here and here. It’s all over the now so-called Winter Storm Nemo or to many circles the Blizzard of 2013, or Nor’easter of 2013.

I can see from my view, that there’s some reasoning of why naming this storm/blizzard/winter storm/whatever could be sort of a good and bad thing and when it comes to determining the event. But first I have to go into a reminder that seldom people on the Internet forgot to consider. That’s the rationale of the NWS’s themselves as to you know, why the people there name any storm in the first place. Not the origin of the chosen names of Hurricanes but the WHY of the system. I found this and according to them:

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. These advantages are specially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundred widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.

The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. For example, one hurricane can be moving slowly westward in the Gulf of Mexico , while at exactly the same time another hurricane can be moving rapidly Northward along the Atlantic coast. In the past, confusion and false rumors have arisen when storm advisories broadcast from radio station were mistaken for warning concerning an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away.

Who said this?  The Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory of the NWS the people whose job it is to name these things. I looked everywhere else for the reason hurricanes and tropical storms get names and other storms don’t. For them it’s all about communication and place.

Reasoning For:

  • It could raise awareness but it could use a set of universally set criteria before we jump into the naming scene.
  • The word “blizzard” sounds archaic. Dating far back as the late 1800’s and soon what will the future generations consider. It’s time to let the word go.
  • Being that this is a classified nor’easter with so many conditions it’s hard to pinpoint an exact storm, it’s a mixed bag of meteorological terror, make up your minds NWS!

Reasoning Against:

  • It’s all about the ratings baby, no government or scientific organization would buy this! Also they confuse the real name of “Nemo” with this. Generational gap problems, really.
  • It could cause people to be misinformed. (though I can’t see that being any different from hurricanes and tropical storms).
  • Traditionalism and trusted sources at best, people rather call it by “name-‘of year'” format than something new and as always change scares people.
  • Winter storms with names? What’s next: Tornadoes? Sand Storms? Floods? It would open the floodgates for naming every destructive weather system and overloads.

My personal stance on this is simple: Neutral. I don’t care much for it but not too much to know where I can see this is going, maybe this could be a fix for ratings or maybe a chance for NOAA and the NWS to reform how it names its weather systems for the 21st century and things would be in need for a change. I mean seriously, if you are not taking names for systems other than hurricanes and tropical storms why name storms at all and just call them for what they are, Storms, Hurricanes, Winter Storms and the like and just don’t give them names at all. The system in place and the reasoning just plain stupid right from the start. It’s a case of it’s all or none.

Also think about what the generations of the future will think of how our storms are organized.


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