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Weather Wars: The National Weather Service Scoffs at The Weather Channel’s Naming of Nor’easter as “Winter Storm Athena”

A little over a month ago, the Weather Channel announced plans to name winter storms, using a system similar to that used for naming hurricanes. With the first major storm of the season hitting the Eastern Seaboard this week, the National Weather Service shared their thoughts of the naming plan.

As you may recall from October, when the announcement was made, the Weather Channel wanted to start naming winter storms to raise awareness, make them easier to follow, and give social media-friendly names to storms as they occur. Several around the country rolled their eyes about the idea, including myself. As I explained in my earlier story, I think the naming system The Weather Channel put in place is just another way to build additional fear around a storm and get people tuning in to The Weather Channel or their website for updates on the hyped storm they’ve sent a reporter to stand in and report live from.

With the first major winter storm of 2012 developing as a nor’easter that added insult to injury to those already cleaning up from a hurricane that hit a week earlier, the stage was set for The Weather Channel to give the pre-designated name Athena. Let the hashtagging begin.

The National Weather Service (which is a government agency not affiliated with the corporately-owned Weather Channel) spoke out about the storm naming situation in a roundabout sort of way in an administrative message sent out across the eastern half of the United States. The message very clearly instructs everyone using the message that the NWS does not name storms and the name “Athena” should not be used to talk about this storm. Here’s the full message:

National Weather Service

Winter storms can be dangerous, and in the case of what The Weather Channel is calling “Athena”, it was of particular interest as people cleaned up from Hurricane Sandy. Even with those factors in place, the National Weather Service seems to have officially picked a fight with The Weather Channel over naming winter storms.





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