The Weather Channel has made a big push this year to start naming major winter storms, as if this was some kind of innovative concept. Of course we here at Weather or Not have been naming winter storms for years -- and I must say our naming schemes have been much more entertaining.
We've had characters from The Simpsons and classic rock bands, while The Weather Channel has... obscure mythological characters and historical figures that most people haven't heard about since high school, if even then. I'm sure we're all looking forward to such classics as Winter Storm Iago or Ukko.
The Weather Channel has also thrown in more contemporary names, but it's obvious that their lawyers intervened to prevent even the slightest hint of trademark infringement. They have Winter Storm Q, which I'm sure was supposed to be a reference to the character in the 007 movies, but that's not what their explanation says. Q is "The Broadway Express subway line in New York City." Whatever.
They do have Winter Storm Gandolf, which is a decent choice. But don't mention "Middle Earth" or "Lord of the Rings" to The Weather Channel's legal department. No, Gandolf is described vaguely as a "character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside."
Despite the public-relations push by The Weather Channel to encourage widespread acceptance of their lackluster names, the National Weather Service has already announced that they won't be participating. This blunt memo was sent out earlier today:
ALERT ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EASTERN REGION
BOHEMIA NY 900 AM EST WED NOVEMBER 7 2012
TO: ALL ER WFOS
TWC HAS NAMED THE NOR`EASTER "ATHENA.." THE NWS DOES NOT USE NAME WINTER STORMS IN OUR PRODUCTS. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USING THE TERM ATHENA IN ANY OF OUR PRODUCTS.
The National Weather Service might be missing an opportunity here. The Weather Channel's names are a joke, but the NWS could make a little money by auctioning naming rights to storms. That's what the Europeans have been doing. The Free University of Berlin has been selling naming rights as part of their "Adopt-a-Vortex" program since 2002, with the proceeds going toward their metereology department. Their names have entered mainstream usage within Germany and much of Europe, although they aren't officially sanctioned.
It's too late for us at Weather or Not to sell off naming rights this season. Maybe next year. In the meantime, since we're running low on classic rock band names, we're going to switch to something festive for the winter season: the names of Santa's reindeer.
Instead of naming storms alphabetically, it makes more sense in this case to follow the pattern established by "The Night Before Christmas" poem, with Rudolph added to the front. That gives us:
If we exhaust that list, then we can switch to the "backup" reindeer as introduced in the South Park episode Red Sleigh Down:
So how far down the list will we get? The Weather Channel is likely to slice through their list like butter, since they'll want to maximize hype.
Locally, however, I suspect that our drought will continue, potentially putting a dent in our winter storm activity. But Mother Nature, as we all know too well, can change on a dime.