Or maybe not?
Weather-reporting industry politics are a bit out of our purview, but I noticed for the first time today the new list of names that The Weather Channel has created for designating this year’s major winter storms. As you’ll see above, the list is weighted heavily towards the mythic, beginning with Athena and ending with Zeus, but it also takes some hard dives into pop-culture appropriated names like Yogi, Gandalf, Nemo, Xerxes, Rocky, and Draco.
Somehow I think Pixar is going to be pissed if Nemo ends up ravaging Tampa Bay or something later this winter.
This list was announced last month, but today marks the beginning of the program as The Weather Channel first names what is elsewhere known as the “nor’easter” storm as “Athena.” There is controversy afoot though, as the National Weather Service doesn’t care for the channel’s silly names, and have advised all of their anchors and employees not to use the name Athena.
“TWC has named the nor’easter Athena,” said the memo, which a weather service spokeswoman confirmed. “The NWS does not use name winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the term Athena in any of our products.”
That position is in line with a public statement the National Weather Service issued at the time The Weather Channel first announced the naming plan, a statement the weather service sent again today.
While there’s a case to be made for public awareness and safety by means of simple and recognizable labeling, this is definitely a case of an esoteric media station trying to capture some memetic relevance by trotting out the bold names. It’s just hard to tell if that’s all going to catch on beyond a joke though. That said, all it takes is for one major newspaper to go for it and the whole thing begins. In fact, if one of these more quirky names ends up lining up with a particularly nasty storm, there’s no doubt in my mind that headlines will read “NEW YORK WISHES IT HADN’T FOUND NEMO” as the opportunity strikes. And what nerd will miss the opportunity to tweet a KHAAAAAAN! joke if given the chance?
Still it can be a weird, ugly thing to dub these potentially deadly, destructive forces with cute names loaded with pop baggage. So, do you favor The Weather Channel’s attention-grabbing bullshit, or the more reasoned approach of the NWS?
thanks to Jonathan Scott Anderson!