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Residents of snowy places like Albany, N.Y., are used to getting a foot or more of snow.
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JUST WHEN YOU think
Take The Weather Channel's latest project.
Recently the NBC-owned cable channel announced it will give names to winter storms beginning this year.
With all due respect, how dumb is that? It is bad enough that almost every low pressure system that pops up in the Atlantic Ocean each summer gets a name. Now we're going to name winter storms.
What will be the criteria? Well, The Weather Channel was a little vague when I watched the announcement.
They conceded that 2 inches of snow in Atlanta might have the same effect as a foot of snow in Buffalo.
So a 2-inch Atlanta snowstorm in Atlanta may get a name while a blizzard in Buffalo may not? That makes a lot of sense.
What about those 3-foot-deep snowstorms that occur several times each year in the Cascades or the Sierras? Will they go unnamed because they are business-as-usual while Atlanta's 2-inch storm gets named "Charlie" because it is something out of the ordinary?
Let's consider a storm that makes it way on shore in Washington state as a rainstorm, dumps snow in the Cascades, turns back to rain in Nebraska, turns to snow again in Indiana and changes back to rain in Virginia.
How do you handle that? Will the storm be named when the first flakes fall in Washington and unnamed when the rains hit Nebraska?
Tropical systems that get names have certain characteristics unique to the warm waters over which they spawn. Winter weather, on the other hand, can bear down on us in any number of ways. A winter storm could bring snow, rain, freezing rain, sleet, wind or, as occurs in parts of the Northern Great Plains, freezing fog that crystallizes on anything it touches.
Tropical systems are also categorized by wind speed intensity. Will there be categories for winter storms? If so, how will this be determined? Will it be according to the amount of precipitation?
One inch of precipitation in the dry air of North Dakota might bring 30 inches of snow while an inch of precipitation might create only 5 inches of wet snow in Virginia.