Q: Why did they start giving names to winter storms? I notice them naming the storms on The Weather Channel now.
A: When I was asked this question, I was relieved to know that I wasn't the only one who had noticed.
It turns out, The Weather Channel started naming the winter storms this season.
The channel even has a long explanation as to why on its website, and I'll hit some highlights from that:
<li>The reasons for giving them names are similar to the purposes for naming hurricanes and tropical storms.
As the network puts it, "a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation."
<li> The Weather Channel has a list of 26 names, A-Z, for winter storms. The network started with Athena. The last name on the list is Zeus.
<li> European weather services have been naming winter storms since the 1950s.
<li> Naming a storm makes it easier to reference in communication in today's social media world. It also is easier to remember when referenced in the future.
For example, with hurricanes, everyone knows what you're talking about when you mention Katrina.
<li> The Weather Channel does not plan to take it a step further by naming thunderstorms and tornadoes. That's because those occur on smaller time and space scales, so naming them really wouldn't provide a benefit and actually could create confusion.
<li> The Weather Channel has a definition for each name on its winter-storm list.
For example, it explains Athena is "the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspirations, justice, mathematics and all things wonderful."
I noticed many names are from mythology or ancient times, although several have nothing to do with either.
For example, the explanation for the name behind storm "Q" simply is that it's "The Broadway Express subway line in New York City."
Rocky is named for "a single mountain in the Rockies."
"Yogi" was named to recognize "people who do yoga."
If you're interested, the full list of names can be found at www.weather.com/news/winter-storm-names-20121001.
Staff Writer Bernie Delinski writes Just Ask, which runs Wednesdays in the TimesDaily. If you've got a question, email it to bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com, call him at 256-740-5739, fax it to 256-740-4717 or send it to Just Ask, c/o TimesDaily, P.O. Box 797, Florence, AL 35631.