Tags: athena | named | storm | weather

Athena First Named Winter Storm; Weather Channel, National Weather Service Battle

Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 12:37 PM

By Ron Varrial

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Athena is closing in on the battered regions still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and a public relations fight is brewing between The Weather Channel and the National Weather Service.

In the first example of The Weather Channel's decision to name winter storms, social media is abuzz with the shift from the impending unnamed nor'easter to Athena.

According to an internal email posted by USA Today, National Weather Service brass have told employees: "The Weather Channel has named the nor'easter 'Athena.' The National Weather Service does not use named winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the name Athena in any of our products."

The Weather Channel, in explaining its decision to name storms last month, said  its goal "is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation."

They listed several advantages to identifying storms this way.

According to TWC, naming a storm raises awareness and attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress. A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness, they explained. In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication, which we are already seeing with Athena. Lastly, TWC says, a named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.

The decision hasn't flown with many in the weather community.

"This is the STUPIDEST thing that the awful weather channel has done in long time," Wxrisk.com posted in the comments field of the Weather Channel's post about naming winter storms.

There is also fear that insurance companies will apply the same type of higher deductibles to named winter storms that currently affect victims of named tropical events.

"Have you guys thought this through?" asked Jeanne Germano. "My home owner's insurance has a $500 deductable for storm damage. However, there is a clause that states that if the damage is caused by a named storm, the deductable goes up to 10% of the damage repair costs. Your cute game of naming winter storms is going to cost a lot of people a lot of money."

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