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Call it Nemo or Charlotte, it's still going to snow

By Izaskun E. Larraņeta

Publication: The Day

Published February 08. 2013 4:00AM   Updated February 08. 2013 1:29PM
WFSB Channel 3 among first in nation to name winter storms

What's in a name? Well, if you're The Weather Channel, today's winter storm is called Winter Storm Nemo. And if you're WFSB Channel 3, the storm is called Charlotte.

Prior to The Weather Channel's announcement last fall that it would be naming winter storms, Channel 3 touted on its website that it was the only station in the nation to name them.

The National Weather Service, an arm of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is in charge of officially naming tropical storms, which retain their names if the systems turn into full-fledged hurricanes.

In a statement, the weather service said, "The National Weather Service does not name winter storms because a winter storm's impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins. While the National Weather Service does not name winter storms, we do rate major winter storms after the fact."

Today's storm is expected to end Saturday afternoon and leave behind 16 to 26 inches of snow for shoreline towns and 17 to 29 inches inland.

Not every storm gets a name, Channel 3 notes. At least 6 inches of snow and/or significant ice accumulation of at least half an inch must be forecast for most of the state.

"In other words, a major snow or ice storm," Channel 3 says.

The tradition of naming winter storms began with Channel 3 and the Travelers Weather Service in 1971. The first storm was Arthur, on Thanksgiving Day that year, according to Channel 3.

The Weather Channel says naming storms raises awareness, makes it easier to follow a weather system's progress, and in today's social media world, makes it easier to reference in communication.

The Weather Channel notes that there is no national center to coordinate and communicate information on winter storms, so it decided to take on that role.

The naming of winter storms is limited to no more than three days before impact to ensure there is moderate to strong confidence the system will produce significant effects on a populated area, The Weather Channel says.

In any event, whether you call it Nemo, Charlotte or Joe Shmoe, be careful. A storm by any other name could be equally as dangerous.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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