For those of you who have not noticed, the Weather Channel has decided to start a new trend: named Winter Storms. I had not realized this effort was being made until a colleague referred to the current storm heading towards the Great Lakes as “Draco.”
“Draco” as in “Draco Malfoy” from Harry Potter. Actually the Weather Channel claims that their Draco is “The first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.” Yeah, like anyone remembers him. I’m actually OK with the Draco Malfoy’s name being given to a malevolent weather system. But the rest of the list is a little sketchy. “Iago,” the villain from Othello? I’m good with that. Same with “Khan” and “Brutus.” But “Gandolf”? What did he do to get put on the Naughty Storms List? Same with “Luna” and “Plato.”
The whole concept is silly and seems like part of some media-driven marketing ploy. The Weather Channel tries to make a good argument for its decision:
- Naming a storm raises awareness.
- A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
- In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication. [emphasis added]
Got it: hashtag #Draco, anyone? This seems like it belongs in the same category as “Invented Holidays Designed to Sell Stuff” (does anyone even still remember “Sweetest Day?”).
I couldn’t find this discussed, but I wonder if their list is copyrighted (unlike the National Hurricane Center list)? Also, does this just apply to national storms? How big does a storm have to be or how far does it have to travel before it merits a name? For those of us in the Snow Belt, we can get hit seriously without the rest of the country noticing. Do we get our own names that are geographically relevant? I’d like “Bradshaw,” “Elway,” and “Modell” to be at the top of the Cleveland list.
But since we’re going down the Silly New Trend path, I’d like to add a few tweaks to make this more fun:
The winter storms need categories, like “F1″ or “Hurricane” that indicate the seriousness of the storm. My colleague suggested, “Eh,” “Negligible,” “Whoa,” and “Hit the Deck!” Each would, of course, need to be announced in an appropriate and well-rehearsed tone of voice, preferably with a sound track and over-the-top graphics.
The storm names should have also categories. In the end, Draco Malfoy was a mostly ineffective sniveling coward, so that could reflect on the nature of the intended storm. I think names like “Voldemort” and “Norman Bates” should be reserved for the truly frightening storms, and we should be able to change their names if they don’t deliver.
Personally, this all seems unnecessary–just ask anyone in Ohio who is old enough to remember about the “Blizzard of ’78” or the “Fourth of July Storm” or the “Xenia Tornado.” Storms take on their own names without official sanction or a christening by the Weather Channel.
Photo by Cat White