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WEATHER U: Naming the winter wallops

List of winter storm names as issued by The Weather Channel.
List of winter storm names as issued by The Weather Channel.

Tropical storms have names; they’ve had names for a long time. In 1953, the United States began using female names for storms and, by 1979, both male and female names were used for storms in the Atlantic basin. Storms were given short, distinctive names to both avoid confusion and streamline communications.

Winter storms don’t officially have names. Having said that, last week the Weather Channel in the United States released its list of 2018-19 winter storm names. I hesitate to draw attention to this, but in today’s world, we get our news and weather from everywhere, even across the border. Inevitably, as we get deeper into the season, we are going to hear how “Avery” has shut down airports and how icy roads – as a result of “Bruce” – are making travel treacherous.

So why does The Weather Channel name winter storms? According to forecasters at the station, naming storms helps people keep track of potentially dangerous systems and understand what risks they may face, so they can properly prepare their loved ones and properties.

While many people will refer to these storms by name, not everyone is onboard with this practice. The U.S. National Weather Service does not name winter storms. On this side of the 49th parallel, our National Weather Service – Environment and Climate Change Canada – also does not name winter storms.

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