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Why Are Some Calling the Snowstorm 'Nemo'?

And why are some scientists opposed to the naming system?


(Source: CSMonitor.com)

"You must prepare now!" scream headlines from websites such as the Weather Channel. The reason: the snowstorm dubbed "Nemo" is bearing down on the Northeast.

But why this name? Isn't it more likely to bring to mind the Disney-Pixar movie "Finding Nemo" than inspire storm preparation? And why name a storm anyway? The National Weather Service (NWS) doesn't name snowstorms, only hurricanes and tropical storms, but the Weather Channel has decided to name "notable" winter storms this year.

Here are the justifications for naming the storm, according to the Weather Channel (TWC):

  • -Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • -Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system's progress.
  • -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 [a storm] in communication.
  • -A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.

"The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation," the network added.

However, meteorologists are generally not impressed with this particular designation; weather expert Jason Samenow with the Washington Post has collected the opinions of several of the scientists, and the reactions are generally negative. Primarily, meteorologists criticize the unilateral way the network made the decision, apparently never consulting with the NWS or professional organizations. Several respondents said this action will confuse the public and the media.

"I think the preemptive decision by TWC to begin naming winter storms is, at best, a poor decision by a critical source of weather information and, at worst ... a gimmick," writes WJLA meteorologist Bob Ryan on his network's website. "I call this a 'preemptive' decision because there was, from everything I have learned, no coordination of this decision to name winter storms with the National Weather Service or any of the professional groups."

The NWS chooses not to name snowstorms because, unlike hurricanes and tropical storms, they aren't well-defined storms following a path that can be tracked, among other reasons, said Jeff Weber, a climatologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Weber added that he understands the rationale for the naming, and that publicity was likely a prime motivation. "It makes sense to keep the public informed, but I must admit I questioned the wisdom of having a commercial organization doing the naming," he told OurAmazingPlanet.

The name Nemo isn't meant to refer to "Finding Nemo," Bryan Norcross, a TWC meteorologist who helped conceive the storm-naming last year, told the New York Times. Nemo is Latin for "no one" or "no man." It also refers to Captain Nemo, the Jules Verne character from "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."

"Captain Nemo was a pretty tough, fierce guy," Norcross said.

Reach Douglas Main at dmain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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bill

Beware read the fine print in your home owners insurance about named storms it may cost you more for any damages

February 10 2013 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usually Speechless

I think it is a great idea to name significant storms based on the justifications listed.

February 09 2013 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usually Speechless

I think naming all significant storms is a great idea based on the justifications that were listed.

February 09 2013 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gp341

Who cares. I still have to shovel.

February 09 2013 at 10:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Hey Angie!

UGH

February 09 2013 at 8:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bh0673

Naming winter storms is the most moronic asinine thing. Let's get a grip those of us that live in the north expect winter storms it is a given it when we have a winter like last year that was mild with no snow that is event not snow storms. Living in the North East on the coast nor'easter's are a fact of life they will happen and are not a real event until they are a bad one and then and only then will they stand out. This naming of every snow storm is ridiculous what's next naming every bad thunder storm and then the insurance industry can get into the act and want to cover less if any damage occurs because they are named storms? Hurricanes are an event and when they hit a specific area and cause damage they are the exception not the norm so I can see naming a hurricane but lets grow up and stop naming every single winter storm there is no reason and people will not give a d*mn in the future we won't be referring to a snow storm by name but by the outcome. The Christmas blizzard of 2011, the nor'easter of 1992, the back to back February blizzards of 2010, there was a March blizzard in 1993 and a January one in 1995. Notice they were one time events years apart. In between every other winter storm was an inconvenience and not an event worth playing this stupid naming game and I can promise everybody who reads this that in time your home owners insurance company will get into the act and look to increase deductibles for any and all named storms. We need to bombard the weather channel and every other weather reporting station that thinks this naming of winter storms is a cute trendy thing to STOP and just report them for what they are WINTER STORMS!!!.

February 09 2013 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vpn

Would it be better to call it "The storm of the century that almost knocked out the northeast corridor with a lot of snow and other stuff" or NEMO?

February 09 2013 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
willowreed

jimbo, do you live anywhere near the northeast? if not shut up. i have four feet of snow on my deck and in my driveway.

February 09 2013 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
willowreed

The REAL name of the storm is Charlotte. I hate disney.

February 09 2013 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teltech544

Nemo was a fitting name. Nemo was a small fish with big hopes. The storm was hyped as a big snowstorm but it ended up just a normal New England snowfall.

February 09 2013 at 7:29 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
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