“When they get named, they’re instantly raised in the public consciousness. People just pay more attention to storms when they get a name,” explained Bryan Norcross, a content director for The Weather Channel who helped develop the naming system.
In December, the storm Draco (named for an ancient Athenian legislator) dumped a foot of snow from Wyoming into the Upper Midwest. Next up were Euclid (ancient Greek mathematician), Freyr (Norse god) and Gandalf (“Lord of the Rings” wizard).
Social media played a big role, starting with an October 2011 snowstorm that The Weather Channel’s social media specialists gave the Twitter hashtag snowtober.
“What we realized was that, in the future, with the reality of Twitter and the fact that we’re going to send information out about storms all winter long, we’re going to have to come up with some kind of hashtag for every storm,” Norcross said.
He pointed out that a pre-decided list of names gets around the problem of having to come up with a creative name for every storm.
The National Weather Service in the late 1990s toyed with rating winter storms on a 1-5 intensity scale, as is done for hurricanes, but the idea didn’t catch on.
The public can see how the Weather Service’s proposed new wording works and comment on it at http://nws.weather.gov/haz_simp .
Ideas submitted by the public so far include trying a color-coded scale for severe weather.
Jacks said he’s read all 3,000 or so surveys returned to date.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “These are all interesting comments and we have to take some time to think about them.”