Naming winter storms: PR coup or ill-advised spin?

A winter storm is taking aim at the East Coast. The Weather Channel named it ‘Nemo’—a savvy branding move, according to some in the PR industry.

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This is not the adorable Disney clownfish, nor is it the vengeful captain in Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

Nemo is a winter storm, and The Weather Channel took it upon itself to assign that moniker—which has created a storm of quite a different sort.

Last fall, TWC said it would begin naming winter storms. Depending upon whom you ask, the practice is either smart branding or questionable spin.

“The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety,” AccuWeather founder and president Joel N. Myers said in a statement.

The National Weather Service has been naming tropical storms since the mid-20th century. Its statement said:

“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 National Weather Service does not name winter storms, we do rate major winter storms after the fact.”

The mixed reactions did not surprise TWC.

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