Did you know that unlike hurricanes, winter storms in the U.S. are not officially named?
February 19, 2015
However, starting in 2012, The Weather Channel, a private media outlet with a near monopoly on weather news in the U.S., began to give unofficial names to winter storms—regardless of their size or duration.
A winter storm (or extratropical cyclone) can weaken, dissipate, or redevelop, and particular features that affect their severity and ultimate impact can be difficult to capture using computer simulations. In contrast, tropical systems are officially named (from lists created by the international committee of the World Meteorological Organization) once they reach tropical storm strength.
The Weather Channel’s naming criteria is murkily defined, and many meteorologists and weather pundits have voiced criticism that the practice is more in the interest of media attention than solid science or public safety. Thus far, the rest of the weather community has not adopted use of the names.