As I write this, a visitor is about to stop in at my house for a day or two. That same visitor will be at your house, too. In fact, that visitor will stop by for a quick visit at hundreds of thousands of homes along the eastern seaboard.
We’re all going to be introduced to that visitor by name, too — first name, anyway. The visitor’s name is Gia. Pleasant name. Sounds like a nice friendly sort, no?
Well, in this case…not so much. Gia, you see, is the name of the winter storm that’s bearing down upon us.
What’s in a Name?
As winter storms go, Gia is pretty typical. She’s going to pay a visit to millions of people from Kansas to the East Coast. She’s going to dump lots of snow and sheath roadways in treacherous sheets of ice. Some metropolitan areas, we’re told, may see record-setting snowfalls.
All in all, Gia is going to do what most winter storms do. Gia will cause lots of chaos, inconvenience lots of people, and maybe even kill a few people. Gia won’t hang around for long; by the time you read this, Gia will be history.
But all the news about Gia caused me to wonder: why (and when) did we start naming winter storms?
It All Began with Athena
The Weather Channel (TWC) began naming winter storms in 2012. The very first named winter storm was Athena. Each winter since there have been roughly a couple dozen winter storms named each year.
Before each winter season begins, TWC prepares a pool of names to be used for the season’s storms. For 2018-2019, a total of 26 names have been selected. (Gia is number seven on the list, so we have quite a stretch to go before this season draws to an end.)
Why the names?
According to TWC’s Bryan Norcross, “It’s simply easier to communicate about a complex storm if it has a name, which our naming program has demonstrated.”
How Storms Rate a Name
The TWC doesn’t assign a name to just any old storm that spits out a bit of snow and ice. To rate one of those friendly sounding names, a storm must be pretty nasty. If a storm meets one (or both) of the following two criteria, it is given a name:
- The National Weather Service issues winter storm, blizzard, or ice storm warnings that apply to a population base of at least 2 million people
- The National Weather Service issues winter storm, blizzard, or ice storm warnings that cover a geographical area totaling at least 400,000 square kilometers
Though storms have been named as early as October, and as late as May, the majority of named storms, unsurprisingly, occur in January and February.
Not So Friendly…
Though the named winter storms sound oh-so-friendly — Gia just sounds delightful, doesn’t she? — they’re anything but. Gia, for example, has already caused disastrous roadway delays in the Midwest. And she’s likely to dump as much as a half-foot of snow in the Maryland area.
So when Gia arrives, along with all her brothers and sisters that will be arriving later this season, you might want to introduce them to another first-name-basis acquaintance of yours: Bob’s TLC Snow Removal Service.
And if not, you might want to assign a first name to your snow shovel. After all, the two of you will be spending lots of time together after each visit by Gia and her siblings.
Call now at 410-721-2342 or email us at [email protected] for a FREE snow removal estimate!