Atlanta: February 11, 2014:
This is the second year that The Weather Channel has taken to naming winter storms similar to the way the National Weather Service names Hurricanes; only this year the idea has been met with mixed reviews. Among those in favor of the idea is weather enthusiast Ethel Stevens of Maryland. “It used to be that Bert and me…Bert’s my husband, anyway, Bert and me would sit and watch the weather and get all kinds of confused.” Seems the repetitive nature of the forecasts had Ethel and Bert thinking they were going to be hit repeatedly by severe winter storm after severe winter storm, sometimes apparently just minutes apart. “Now our all day weather watching sessions (she’s a big fan of The Weather Channel) are much less stressful since we can keep track of the storms by name. It used to seem like there was a storm coming every five minutes.” It also saves them money. “I can’t tell you how many times we had run off to the store to stock up on bread and milk only to come back home and think to ourselves…we have to go back and get more.”
Another fan of the system is pet hoarder, Carol Fairlink of Nebraska. “You wouldn’t leave a pet without a name would you…why should winter storms be treated like something less than a loved one?” Fairlink for one, thinks they haven’t gone far enough. “Why stop with winter storms? I mean, we have lots of sunny days right? Sunny days are the direct result of high pressure systems…so…why not name the high pressure systems? That way we could say things like: Isn’t “Mr. Socks” nice bringing us this sunshine…I know I’d like that,” Said Fairlink just before a Humane Society tractor trailer arrived with a staff of five to “inspect” her home.
But not everyone is happy with the change to naming the storms. Republicans and Democrats are both opposed to the system…but for different reasons. Said a spokesman for the Republican Party; “This has to be some gimmick made up by the Democrats to push their agenda forward. Before long they will be asking for all kinds of equal rights adjustments for these previously unnamed storms and we all know what that leads to…higher taxes!” The Democrats, apparently not aware of the Republican statement issued their own, saying in part: “…this is just simply another baseless effort by the GOP to try to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Everyone knows these storms don’t have phones and don’t have access to computers…it will be a nightmare trying to get them signed up for health insurance through an exchange. But we are working on a solution…one early concept is to require The Weather Channel to offer these storms some sort of coverage.”
Southerners too weighed in with many saying the naming system was confusing citing “Not enough southern names.” Hank Wheeler of Mississippi: “How are we supposed to know what kind of punch that storm is gonna pack? Orion!? Means nothing to me…now Bud, Buford, Dwight, Eugene…I know when those guys come around whether I need to duck or not.
The storms themselves have added to the negativity with many of them playing an old fashioned game of one-upmanship and trash talk. Winter storm Pax; “Unlike that wimp Nika, I will unleash my full force and fury night and day. I’d stay home if I were you! And Maximus?! Talk about a misnomer! Only Atlanta struggled and that happens when the temps are below 70 with partly cloudy skies.”
For their part, The Weather Channel has defended its naming system saying “Our research shows people care less about the accuracy of our forecasts when the storms have names. It appears they just start to like the storms regardless of what they do…that takes the heat off of us to be accurate.” When asked about the next storm after Pax (Quintus by the way), a spokesman explained why they had changed the name from “Putin”. “It just isn’t a name we associate with great size or stature…People always giggle when they hear that name and assume it will be much smaller than expected…”