The Weather Channel named the winter storm bearing down on Montana this week “Brutus.” It’s the second major winter storm the cable network christened this season. The first, Athena, raged up the East Coast hitting areas already stricken by Hurricane Sandy.
The Weather Channel decided to begin naming “noteworthy” winter storms this season “to better communicate the threat and timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events,” according to a post on the channel’s website.
Brutus arrived in Bozeman on Thursday and is expected to drop as much as 8 inches of snow in town with more in the mountains by Saturday night. Temperatures could dip below zero during the storm.
Naming a storm raises awareness, makes it easier to track and remember, the Weather Channel says. It also makes it easier to reference on social media.
And, in fact, though it wasn’t trending big on Twitter, #Brutus was making a showing there Thursday.
“Arctic air lurking #Brutus best name for a storm…ever,” wrote Yatika Starr Fields from Kansas.
“Glad they’re naming winter storms now, but it’ll be business as usual here in MT. #Brutus #justanotherday,” wrote Dave Creamer.
Not every tweeter was buying into the naming convention though.
“Okay, enough with the naming of storms,” wrote one.
And others just questioned the decision.
“Can someone explain to me why winter storms are now getting names?!” asked Ryan Booth from Washington, D.C.
Peter Griesar tweeted, “I’m very skeptical of this naming scheme – it may trivialize the importance of hurricanes.”
The National Weather Service isn’t signing on either.
“The National Weather Service has no opinion about private weather enterprise products and services,” the government agency said in a prepared statement. “A winter storm’s impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins. While the NWS does not name winter storms we do rate storms after the fact.”
Winter storms are more difficult to predict (than hurricanes) in terms of scope, impact, timing and locality, said Jonathan Suk, a NWS meteorologist in Great Falls.
But the Weather Channel plans to carry on, saying Europeans have been naming winter storms since the 1950s.
And with future storm monikers like Gandolf, Iago, Jove, Rocky, Triton and Zeus, they’re sure to catch people’s attention.
Next up: Caesar. Get it?
Jodi Hausen can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2630.