Thursday, February 20, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Name That Storm

This is the second year of named winter storms. Last year around this time I wrote about The Weather Channel’s unilateral decision to create an A-Z list of blizzard names with the intention of making them into the same sort of memory-sticking references that we have long used for hurricanes. (See: The problem was that the Weather Channel’s choices were so ... well, to use a non-technical term ... crappy.  To see the names the Weather Channel gave to last year's storms go to

This year’s list is even worse. A few examples: D is for Dion. Isn’t he the guy who sang “Run-around Sue” back in 1961? F is Falco, as in the Austrian guy who charted in 1985 with the techno-pop hit "Rock Me Amadeus". W is Wiley, forever associated with the cartoon coyote who can never catch a roadrunner. And then there’s the Y, Yona, which doesn’t call anything to mind other than a word it resembles, Yoni. Go ahead and Google that one if you don’t know what it means. Not a one of them says "blizzard" to me. There’s a funny, acid-tongued critique of the names on the TV discussion site

Fortunately, here in our nation’s capital there is a lively, outspoken and meteorologically literate public forming a critical mass of readers with enough power to articulate a coherent viewpoint -- and a platform to express that viewpoint. That platform happens to be Capital Weather Gang, which recently ran a poll on naming storms. Although a majority voted for leaving storms nameless, among those who voted in favor of names, a consensus winner clearly emerged, and it certainly was not Pax, the Weather Channel’s dopey choice. (Pax -- Latin for peace -- is not only the complete opposite of what comes to mind when you want to evoke a harsh, disruptive, potentially life-threatening natural phenomenon, but it’s also a name now permanently enshrined on the list of wacky celebrity baby names, being the one slapped onto one of the many offspring of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. (The Jolie-Pitts also have a Knox and a Maddox - apparently they have a thing about names ending in X.)

Now for the name that won over the weather-wise mavens and readers of Capital Weather Gang: it’s Snochi. (See: So apt in so many ways. Most obviously, in its timing, as this winter storm has descended on us in the midst of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. This heavy wet snow has been good for building things, like ski jumps and snow sculptures and security barricades. And as in Sochi, it’s happening in a part of the world not usually known for heavy snow.  (In Sochi they had to stockpile several years’ worth of snow to make sure they’d have enough to run the events.) And finally, this is a storm that, much like the Olympics Games, seems to go on forever. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for it all to be over. Bring me spring! And some summer games, too!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and All Life Is Local on Saturdays.This column was originally posted on Saturday, February 15, 2014.

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