Friday, February 19, 2016

Winter Storms: Are They Worth Naming?

'SIMA supports the naming of winter storms as it brings awareness to the severity and seriousness of winter weather.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
It started with Ajax and recently had Olympia leaving mostly rain in the New England states, the 2015-16 winter storm names have been sort of an unusual bunch. Considering the oddly warm winter, maybe that’s fitting. Back in 2012-13, the Weather Channel decided to start naming winter storms, in a similar way that hurricanes are named, in order to “communicate about a complex storm…as good communications benefits everyone” as stated on their website.

As snow and ice management professionals, do we feel there is value to naming winter storms? Recently SIMA was contacted by a meteorologist in a large city on the great lakes who has some strong feelings that naming winter storms was irresponsible by the Weather Channel because there’s not more than a single storm at a time. He further stated hurricanes are different as its common for more than one to occur at a time.

The New York Times addressed Winter Storm Jonas as part marketing ploy, although it seems they see some credibility in how a storm name can help in spreading awareness via social media.

SIMA supports the naming of winter storms as it brings awareness to the severity and seriousness of winter weather. When bad winter weather hits an area, auto accidents increase, people overexert themselves shoveling, slip and falls on ice, and all sorts of other harm is done. Public safety is at risk, and similar to hurricanes, emergency personnel are working through it to provide safety and resources to those areas hardest hits. In the case of winter storms, those personnel are snow and ice plowers, shovelers, light to heavy equipment operators, and even office staff working at call centers to coordinate crews and provide service.

Most recall the devastation of Hurricane’s Katrina and Sandy, can the same be said for Winter Storm Jonas or Nemo from 2013? Time will tell, certainly it’s easier to recall Nemo as opposed to the ‘February 2013 nor-easter’.

Next up is Petros. What do you think?

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