We're getting hit by an avalanche of names
Pittsburgh was clobbered by maybe a half-inch of snow on Wednesday. Some places in the suburbs were hit far worse, like an inch or something. In the ridges of Fayette and Westmoreland counties, and in western Maryland and northern West Virginia, 3 to 6 inches or more of snowfall was projected.
That might or might not be enough to earn a winter storm a name.
In case you missed it, The Weather Channel has taken to naming winter storms. Perhaps the channel's Storm Survival Kits containing a raincoat and a paddle weren't selling well, and they needed another marketing tool. But people quickly picked up on storm names in online postings, so you, too, can capitalize on this trend.
Remember the snow last week that closed half the area's schools and then melted about an hour after it fell? That storm was Saturn. Like the planet.
Naming storms isn't a foreign idea. The National Weather Service gives hurricanes names by alphabetical order. Because there can be more than one storm forming, naming them makes them easier to track. The service has said repeatedly, however, that it does not intend to name winter storms.
Enter The Weather Channel and its strict standards about naming storms. For example, the network waits until a few days before a storm hits and then names it — maybe to increase the likelihood that significant snowfall worthy of naming rights will result.
Another factor for naming is whether the storm will hit during the week or weekend, and the possibility that it will affect metropolitan areas around rush hour.
Doesn't sound scientific or meteorological, does it? Aside from following the same alphabet-based pattern, the methodology's a bit light. To understand this newest stunt, though, you have to understand The Weather Channel, or TWC, as its known on many cable channel guides.
Who watches The Weather Channel all day, besides the South and people who lost their remote controls? No one. You have to make weather interesting enough to get people to tune in more than five minutes.
Although TWC has said it names winter storms to raise public awareness of blizzards and ice storms — regardless of severity — there's probably another motive. From its website: “Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our viewing public and our digital users.”
That does sound like fun — to name a storm Nemo, hashtag it on Twitter and see what happens. What's better to raise awareness than to Photoshop an animated fish in the middle of a radar map showing a fierce blizzard?
Wednesday's dusting didn't earn a name. But we may get more snow this week. Wouldn't it be “fun” if everyone named the storms? I mean, why should we be saddled with the name “Ukko”? (Yes, TWC named 20 storms this year, and that's next up. Someone's a little flurry-happy.)
Because the effects of a winter storm can vary greatly between regions, we should take ownership and go with our own name that says “Pittsburgh 2013.”
Maybe Winter Storm Nate? Or Luke? Or Scandalgeddon?
Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, email@example.com or on Twitter @NafariTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Moore hopes to see red (zone) in Steelers debut
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- Harhai campaign emails from 2007 under review, Westmoreland County DA says
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- City’s plan for Strip flummoxes vendors
- Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
- Armed officers comb woods for state trooper ambush suspect
- Family becomes ‘forever’
- Judge lifts order blocking racy state emails
- Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin
- Beaver footprints found along Allegheny River bank, not gator