It’s not exactly breaking news that the Weather Channel went spinning away from reality at some point in the past year or two. Gawker had it covered on a couple fronts last year, pointing out that the network turns into a ranting and raving disaster-porn show at the site of a few flurries, and that its decision to take it upon itself to start naming winter storms is the first — actually, maybe the second or third — step in a descent toward madness. And this year’s winter storm names, which you can see in the banner image up above, were actually released back in October, so they’re a few months old, too. Still, I think it’s important that we discuss it again today, if only to really drive the point home: the Weather Channel has gone insane.
Now, like any person who has gone insane, the Weather Channel insists it has not. It claims to have reasons for its lunacy:
The decision to begin naming storms came about as part of The Weather Channel’s program to find the best possible ways to communicate severe weather information on all distribution platforms, including social media.
Hashtags are an intrinsic part of social media, and a storm name proved to be the best way to efficiently and systematically convey storm information. Storm-name hashtags have been used with tropical storms and hurricanes for years, and Winter Storm Nemo’s billion-plus impressions on Twitter last winter demonstrated that the same system is ideal for winter storms as well.
Okay, but here’s a counterpoint: Look at those names. Look at them. The list reads more like a call sheet from an American Gladiators tryout than something having to do with meteorology (“Pax, I want you and Zephyr on The Wall. Ion, meet me at Hang Tough in 15”), which makes it kind of hard to mount an argument that you’re not trying to sensationalize things. Take this weekend, for example, when headlines like “WINTER STORM KRONOS BEARING DOWN ON THE EAST COAST” were scattered liberally across the channel and its website. That sounds like something that would happen in a movie where Morgan Freeman plays the president and Bruce Willis is our only hope, not something that dropped a few inches of snow on a Saturday in late January.
I don’t know, maybe next year they’ll name all the storms, like, Al, or Carl, or Ron, or things like that to prove me wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The smart money is on a storm named Truckasaurus by 2016 at the latest. And until then, to quote both the Weather Channel’s website and Scar from The Lion King, “BE PREPARED.” Leon is up next, and Leon brings the ruckus.