AccuWeather criticizes Weather Channel winter storm-naming plan

October 03, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

The Weather Channel's plans announced Tuesday to assign names to winter storms in the same way as hurricanes may have stirred a debate among weather forecasters.

AccuWeather.com has released a statement criticizing the move. Henry Margusity, AccuWeather's lead severe weather forecaster, had poked some holes in the plan on Twitter on Tuesday, but the statement released Wednesday comes from the weather service's founder and president.

“In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety and is doing a disservice to the field of meteorology and public service,” Joel N. Myers said in the statement. 

“We have explored this issue for 20 years,” he continued, “and have found that this is not good science and importantly will actually mislead the public. Winter storms are very different from hurricanes.”

AccuWeather officials said hurricanes are clearly defined storms with tracks that can be followed and predicted, whereas many winter storms are less unified and affect different areas in different ways.

Weather Channel officials said in their Tuesday announcement the naming of winter storms would "better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events."

Officials expected the plan "would generate interest as well as a variety of opinions," spokesman David Blumenthal said in an e-mail. The aim is to better inform and communicate with the public about storm threats.

"We welcome the feedback on our plan as we think it will help us make the system better and in the end more effective," Blumenthal said.

Here's a link to the original post on the storm names, the list of which includes the likes of Gandolf, Magnus and Yogi.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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