From Atlas to Zephyr: Be On the Lookout for Named Winter Storms

Anybody who followed the news or used social media last fall heard about it: The Weather Channel’s decision to name winter storms.

Designed to facilitate the sharing and spreading of information about severe storms, the idea proved successful the company reports. Combining traditional and social media and using storm names as hashtags on platforms like Twitter did exactly what The Weather Channel intended. It created buzz, which, in turn, helped to alert people in affected areas to the fact that potentially life-threatening weather was on the way.

“During the big storms like Nemo, the names became a handy way for the public to receive and exchange information,” said Bryan Norcross, meteorologist and storm specialist at The Weather Channel.

Named winter storms 2013 – 2014

Building on last year’s success, the company released a new list of storm names for the 2013-2014 season:

  • Atlas – already used for the season
  • Boreas – already used for the season
  • Cleon - already used for the season
  • Dion – already used for the season
  • Electra - already used for the season
  • Falco – already used for the season
  • Gemini - already used for the season
  • Hercules – already used for the season
  • Ion – already used for the season
  • Janus – already used for the season
  • Kronos – already used for the season
  • Leon – already used for the season
  • Maximus - already used for the season
  • Nika - already used for the season
  • Orion – already used for the season
  • Pax – already used for the season
  • Quintus – already used for the season
  • Rex – already used for the season
  • Seneca - already used for the season
  • Titan - already used for the season
  • Ulysses - already used for the season
  • Vulcan - already used for the season
  • Wiley
  • Xenia
  • Yona
  • Zephyr

The Weather Channel says its naming criteria are based on National Weather Service “thresholds” for winter-weather warnings and a storm’s expected impact on highly populated metro areas or over a large geographic region. The storm names will be used in alphabetical order, much like the system used to name hurricanes and tropical storms.

Interestingly, the company tasked students from Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Mont., to create this year’s list of names as part of their Latin homework. With designations like Atlas, Boreas, Hercules and Kronos, it’s easy to see they were inspired by classical mythology.

Winter preparation tips

So, are you ready for Winter Storm Leon? Remember, winter weather can result in closed roads, power outages and freezing temperatures, so it’s vital to prepare for any winter storm well in advance.

Here are some tips from to get you started.

Make a family communications plan.  

Depending on when a storm hits, the members of your family could be at school, at work, at home or elsewhere. If possible, make sure everybody has a mobile phone pre-programmed with emergency numbers at all times. Determine a meeting spot, like a local storm shelter, so you know where to find each other in the event that cellphone communications are down. Last, but not least, choose a relative or friend who lives outside of your area as your go-to contact in the event you’re separated for an extended period of time.

Prepare your home.

Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean so rain or melt-water can drain quickly. Cut down overhanging tree branches that could fall and damage nearby structures or vehicles. If necessary, insulate any outside pipes or faucets to prevent them from freezing and bursting, and learn how to shut off the main water supply in case a pipe bursts. Homeowners with wood stoves or open hearths should make sure their chimneys are swept and any cracks in the pipes or brickwork are repaired. Place snow shovels by the door so you can dig yourself out if necessary, and make sure to stock up on rock salt or sand to provide traction on walkways and driveways.

Prepare your vehicle.

In addition to winterizing your vehicle by making sure all fluids are topped off and installing winter tires, make sure you have a fully stocked emergency kit in your car. This should include a first-aid kit, blankets, a flashlight and hand crank radio, bottled water and non-perishable food supplies.

Prepare yourself and your family.

Besides stocking up on nonperishable food, bottled water and fuel for the wood stove (if you have one), you should also make sure everybody has enough warm clothing and blankets, advises. If the power goes out and you don’t have an alternate heat source, you’ll need all the warmth you can get. To make sure you have light, choose flashlights (pack extra batteries) rather than candles, to reduce any fire hazard.

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