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If you occasionally check the Weather Channel (either the smartphone app or online), you'll see they reference strong weather systems by name. (It only seems to be eastern storms.) I've always wondered if this was just something The Weather Channel does--for whatever reason--of if the NWS really does name them.

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    $\begingroup$ All discussed on wikipedia, yes it's just the Weather Channel. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_storm_naming_in_the_United_States $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Apr 11 '18 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @farrenthorpe, thanks. For some reason I never thought I'd find anything via Google search. If you'd like to provide your comment as an answer, we can remove this from the unanswered queue. If not, I can delete. (I really don't care about the rep either way.) $\endgroup$ – BillDOe Apr 11 '18 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ Leave it here... it's a valid question. $\endgroup$ – farrenthorpe Apr 11 '18 at 21:36
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It is just the Weather Channel. You can tell which businesses frequently watch (or even do business with) the Weather Channel by whether or not they refer to them by these names. The naming of winter storms irks many of the meteorologists I know (including myself).

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  • $\begingroup$ why does it irk you ? I love names. What if a winter storm is a large mesoscale system that hangs around for days ? Does it not deserve a name and how do you go back and analyze it later ? $\endgroup$ – gansub Apr 12 '18 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ It irks me because it seems to exude authority. It seems like a ploy to gain money and influence. There also seems to be little to no criteria for what is named? Does it have to produce snow? What if it produces just freezing rain? Are we going to start naming other mesoscale events, like lake effect snow and mesoscale convective systems? What names do they plan on retiring? What if it overlaps with names for hurricanes? Does it deserve a name? No. Two inches of snow in the southern US can be crippling, while some schools won't even cancel elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – BarocliniCplusplus Apr 12 '18 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_storm_naming_in_the_United_States $\endgroup$ – BarocliniCplusplus Apr 12 '18 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Right, invest is just a designation for investigation, so that it may be monitored in case it turns into a tropical depression/storm/hurricane. It is usually given that designation by the National Hurricane Center, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, or Central Pacific Hurricane Center (authorities). The Weather Channel names storms based on how many people (how many viewers?!) will be affected, not by any meteorological classification (weather.com/news/news/…). Tropical storms are named, even if they may not make landfall. $\endgroup$ – BarocliniCplusplus Apr 12 '18 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I'm with @BarocliniCplusplus on this one. At the very least it seems presumptuous of TWC to name winter storms without, at least, the NWS's blessing. And they only seem to name eastern storms, presumably because they affect the most people, but what about severe western storms? Yeah, the west coast isn't as densely populated as the east coast, but it gets its fair share of severe storms that cause flooding and displacement of large populations. Anyway...marking this as answered. $\endgroup$ – BillDOe Apr 12 '18 at 18:31
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It should also be noted that Europe has a history of applying names to historic storms... though the practice has only started to become a bit more formalized recently, driven in part by confusion between inconsistent names and notability.

Media in Germany started naming storms in the 1950s, but their process has had plenty of controversy along the way... (apparently now a storm's naming rights can now be purchased by companies or citizens!?!)

The UK and Ireland started naming strong extratropical cyclones a few years ago, joined by France, Spain, and Portugal this season.

As mentioned in BarocliniCplusplus's answer, many amateur and professional meteorologists have shown a range of dissatisfaction with the Weather Channel naming these systems, for reasons including:

  • It suggests the Weather Channel believes presumptuously that they are worthy of claiming to be some sort of larger body of official authority
  • The application of the names seems quite arbitrary, mainly based on impacts in the southern and eastern US, rather than the mostly objective basis for tropical cyclone naming.
  • While winter storms indeed can be rather life-changing and significant events, it still waters down the usage of names as a whole... as many people note, should we also start naming wildfires, floods, squall lines, and everyday thunderstorms?
  • As can be common in commercial media, The Weather Channel does have a history of hyping and over-dramatizing storms for eyeballs (see the example in this story)

But for what it's worth, whether it's the extra attention garnered or the belief it's helping in disseminating storm information, 2017-18 marks the sixth year that The Weather Channel has named storms.

(See also: naming tropical cyclones)

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