Friday, October 5, 2012

What's In a Name?

Just passed the 68,000 hit benchmark.  I am so pleased that so many of you have been visiting "Looking Toward Portugal."  Let me hear from you!

The National Weather Service has gone on record that this winter is going to be one of the more bitter ones in recent years.  That said, I am somewhat perplexed by the unilateral decision by the Weather Channel, beginning this year, to name the major winter storms much in the manner that hurricanes have received proper sobriquets since 1953.

Not to be outdone, the Weather Channel has come up with a rather interesting list of names for this winter: Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco, Euclid, Freyr, Gandolf, Helen, Iago, Jove, Khan, Luna, Magnus, Nemo, Orko, Plato, Q, Rocky, Saturn. Triton, Ukka, Virgil, Wanda, Xerxes, Yogi, and Zeus.

The Weather Channel claims that by providing severe winter storms and blizzards with an identity, it will be better able to track them and provide important information in a more cogent manner.  I do not see how this is possible when it is only the Weather Channel who will use this system which has yet to be recognized by the National Weather Service, the arbiter of all that is meteorological in the United States.  And what constitutes a severe winter storm?  Honestly, I think the whole idea is goofy from the get go and will only lead to confusion and distraction.  It is nothing more than whimsey, a way to spice up otherwise dull weather reports.

Just look at the names that have been selected.  I am somewhat curious how “Helen” (storm warnings issued as Helen approaches Troy, New York) and Wanda (a storm called Wanda???)” were slipped in there; they do not seem to fit in this otherwise eclectic list of names?  And “Q”?  What about “Quantus” (a flying kangaroo), or better yet “Quetzalxochitl,” or even the more urbane “Quincy”?  Three names are associated with the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Masters of the Universe franchises: “Draco,” the evil little wizard and Potter nemesis; “Gandalf” (sorry Weather Channel, but you misspelled the name), the wise old wizard of Middle Earth; and “Orko,” a so-called Trollan who always dresses for winter.   Why these names were selected for winter storms?  Ask the Weather Channel because I haven’t the faintest idea.

I am also somewhat confused about the choice of “Freyr,” the Norse god who is, among other things, associated with sunshine and fair weather, two conditions not normally concomitant with severe winter storms.  Then there is “Jove” (Jupiter), the Roman god of sky and thunder.  A little closer to the mark, but not quite.  “Saturn,” another Roman god, is associated with the winter solstice.  Three storms will be named for Greek gods - “Athena,” “Triton” and “Zeus” - none of whose mythology is closely associated with weather, particularly winter, although Zeus did possess thunder and lightning.  The other names?  “Brutus” was a Roman politician who killed a “Caesar,” “Plato” was a Greek philosopher, “Virgil” a Roman poet, and “Xerxes” a Persian king.  The significance of these names?  Perhaps they add some panache to this list, but that is about it.  Ukka?  I don’t even know what that is. 

I can see it now.  “The East Coast is being pounded by a storm of Euclidean geometry.” Later in the winter the Great Plains will suffer the “wrath of Khan” after “Iago proved quite unpredictable.” It is follow by a “Magnus opus with a foot of new snow.”  The next storm will peter out and meteorologists will have difficulty “finding Nemo” on the weather map.”  And “Rocky” ? . . . “gonna snow now, it’s so hard now.”  And after a long and relentless winter, we will suffer through “Yogi” which is “stronger than the average storm.  Guess it is deja vu all over again.”  You get the idea.

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