Atlanta, GA (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Weather Channel has announced that it will begin naming noteworthy winter storms in the upcoming 2012-2013 winter season.
The goal? To better communicate the threat and timing of a significant storm's impact. And like hurricanes, a storm with a name is easier to follow.
During the hurricane season, "named" tropical systems become instantly recognizable to the public, like Hurricane Katrina that ravaged New Orleans and left millions of people without homes.
By having a name, some of the deadliest, most destructive hurricanes become sinister, almost human.
Winter storms can strike with similar, life-affecting intensity and sometimes in surprising fashion.
The Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011, forecast days in advance, still stranded hundreds along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago.
The Northland's Leap Day Blizzard in 2012 that dumped about 14 inches of snow over night shut down multiple cities and towns.
But except for coined phrases like "Snowtober" and "Snowmageddon", winter storm coverage has rarely taken on a personality of its own, until now.
"This season The Weather Channel is naming major winter storms," says Tom Niziol, the Weather Channel Winter Weather Expert. "There will be a number of criteria we're going to look at, most important of course is going to be snowfall accumulation, ice accumulation, and that combination of wind which can produce significant impacts on the public"
Selected by a committee of specialists and forecasters at the Weather Channel, the list includes names like Athena, Draco, and Magnus (see picture for list of names approved so far for winter storms).
"Names with an attitude," says Niziol. "Winter weather certainly has an attitude and takes on a certain personality, so that's gonna be our theme for this year."
And even though it may sound gimmicky and fun, the reasoning behind it is anything but that.
"Even though winter storms are different than hurricanes, they have their own share of disruptive and dangerous effects," says Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist at the Weather Channel.
"And NOAA has a goal to become a more weather ready nation," says Niziol. "The Weather Channel is going to do our part to raise the awareness to the public to reach that goal."
It can also help to differentiate dangerous systems from normal winter weather, a model Europe has used since the 1950's.
The Weather Channel says that one of the reasons that severe winter storms have not been named nationally is because they don't have a national center, like the National Hurricane Center that reports and tracks tropical storms.
The Weather Channel says they have the resources and technology to report on winter storms just like the National Hurricane Center.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns