Sandy, Katrina, Irene, Andrew… all memorable names of Hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on U.S. coastlines and mainland in years past, but have you heard of Nemo? In case you’ve been living in a sunny California bubble, Nemo is the first named blizzard that’s predicted to hit the North East by tomorrow afternoon… and hit hard. But when did we start naming blizzards? Even the infamous blizzard of ’78 went unnamed. So, what’s Nemo all about?
The answer is simple: social media.
Implementing a new naming system, The Weather Channel has designated tomorrow’s storm as Nemo in an effort to employ social media and help people stay on top of important updates and new information. For instance, by using a hashtag with the blizzard name, people on Twitter can instantly pare down their feeds to focus solely on blizzard news. The Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Niziol notes that “hash tagging a storm based on its name will provide a one-stop shop to exchange all of the latest information on the impending high-impact weather system.”
But, with more and more social media users jumping on the bandwagon, the useful news feed is quickly becoming populated with jokes about Disney’s lost fish or other things that should be named. The growing Internet interest in the storm has also seemed to increase latency on The Weather Channel’s website, as noted by many users’ frustration.
The Weather Channel seems confident in their naming plan though and have made compelling cases for its ease of use and social appeal. Bryan Norcross of The Weather Channel is quoted on the site, saying, “The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.” Similarly, Niziol noted, “the name itself will make communication and information sharing in the constantly expanding world of social media much easier.”
But, the weather community does not seem entirely on board with the plan as there’s been some dissent over the topic of naming weather systems other than hurricanes or tropical storms. The Weather Channel is a private company and the blizzard naming convention has been called a “gimmick” by those not on board with the concept.
I suspect the majority of people, especially social media users, may disagree though. Especially as it was found that 84 percent frequently or exclusively use social media tools to follow or monitor news and information – myself included! And, if the power goes out, you may still be able to use your cell phone service to check social sites like Twitter for updates.
What do you think? Is The Weather Channel’s storm naming system a social media success? Here’s hoping #Nemo won’t hit too hard tomorrow, except on the ski slopes!