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In Naming Winter Storms, It’s All About The #Hashtag

The Weather Channel


Atlas landed on South Dakota in October, killing thousands of cattle, and Electra killed at least eight people in the Northeast last month. Kronos caused two deaths and at least 200 traffic accidents throughout Louisiana last weekend, and as Leon makes its way across the South today, some are found wondering: What’s with the names?

The Weather Channel is in its second year of naming winter storms, a methodology the media outlet says it’s using to simplify the conversation by making a complicated weather system hashtag-able. TWC explained itself in October:

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.

Whether used to discuss the GRAMMYs or usher in revolution across the Middle East, hashtags function as focused portals in an ever-growing cloud of information and commentary. Although the Internet may never have the opportunity to discuss #Zephyr — the last name on TWC’s winter-storm list, one compiled with the help of a high school Latin class — to name these storms brings a new level of ingenuity to the conversation everyone’s a part of: the weather.

On Twitter yesterday, tweets referencing “#Leon” began honing in on the looming weather system after TWC gave it the moniker. It’s since been mentioned in tweets for breaking traffic updates:

And safety tips for outdoor pets:

Facebookers are utilizing the hashtag, too, like this utility company in Mississippi:

Coastal-region residents have been accustomed to named tropical storm systems since 1950. But as information becomes increasingly accessible and the frequency of exceptional storm systems increases globally — think #SuperstormSandy or #TyphoonHaiyan — TWC’s naming system makes sense in the digital age.

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