Winter storm Jason will be traveling up the Northeast Coast of the U.S., wrecking havoc in his path this weekend. It’s the first snowstorm of the year and is promising to be a giant one!
“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.” Kin Hubbard
This storm is big enough to warrant a name, and so I decided to spend some of my time inside, looking into why we name storms. I guess I’ve pondered this before, but never had the time or inclination to actually research it…another great opportunity when you’re spending some time alone, you can delve into a subject you’ve been curious about.
Generally speaking, this is what most people think, when gearing up against a storm the size of Jason. Panic prevails and the stores become overwhelmed by dazed customers rushing in to buy things they never thought they needed…cannned goods along with the staples including more milk and water, bread and eggs than they could possibly consume in the 24-48 hour duration of these “weather events”.
Not to make light of legitimate concerns over safety in any storm! Having lived on the U.S. Northeast coastline for most of my life, you learn to respect mother nature, take nothing for granted and always hedging against the worst…especially in a storm that merits a name!
So back to my findings on this particular “naming” topic. The naming of hurricane storms started in 1950. Before then, these were tracked by years and the order in which they occurred. But apparently, that frequently caused confusion when 2 or more storms were brewing near each others longitudinal and latitudinal positions ‘s at the same time. It was thought that there would be more clarity in communications, therefore, if these huge storms were instead given names.
It wasn’t until 3 years later, in 1953 that women’s names were used, in addition to men’s. Atlantic based hurricanes rotate names every 7th year, unless a particular storm was so devastating that the name is subsequently retired. There are 78 names that have been retired since 1954. 2005 holds the record for retired names within one year, having 5 taken off the roster, including Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.
But winter storms only began bearing names in 2012, when The Weather Channel thought that, like hurricanes, giving these huge storms names would help communicate better to the public when an outsized storm or blizzard was coming. It began with a November Nor’easter that The Weather Channel named “Winter Storm Athena”.
And so, as the weekend kicks off, we run to the market, shore up our pantries and hunker down for the arrival of Jason. He promises to make quite a mark on the Northeast corridor!
Be safe everyone! And if you’re on your own, be sure to enjoy “A Table For One” this weekend.
Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady