You might remember Nemo — no, not the cute Disney fish or the captain of Jules Verne’s Nautilus. We’re talking about the storm — Winter Storm Nemo — the one that was supposed to vie with the great nor’easters and dump snow and misery by the yard earlier this month on the Midatlantic states and Northeast.
Well, it was plenty damaging and left a lot of snow, but it turned out to be just another big storm, historically speaking. If you’re wondering, that storm was dubbed Nemo by the Weather Channel, which has taken it upon itself to give names to winter storms it deems worthy. By the way, the Weather Channel defines Nemo as “a Greek boy’s name meaning ‘from the valley;’ means ‘nobody’ in Latin.”
Don’t feel bad if Nemo the storm took you by surprise. You probably also missed Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Frehr, Gandolf, Jove and the seven other named storms this winter that preceded Nemo. We’re betting you also missed Orko (named for the thunder god in Basque mythology) and Plato, who shouldn’t need explanation. Both of those storms came after Nemo.
Then there’s Q — Winter Storm Q. The Weather Channelistas named it after the Broadway Express subway line in New York City, though the James Bond character might have been more fun. As we speak, Q appears poised to strike Nebraska and north central and northeastern Kansas Wednesday night with snow, sleet, freezing rain and old-fashioned rain. It’s worth remembering that Q is only Q to the Weather Channel. We’re guessing some folks around here, though grateful for precipitation in just about any form, will have more colorful names for it.
The Weather Channel announced last fall it was naming winter storms, and though the gimmick smacks of self-promotion, it’s marketed as a public service. The Weather Channel insists that naming storms raises awareness and “makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.”
What’s more, it says a named storm “takes on a personality all its own” and is easier to remember in the future. As for criteria to merit naming, they include whether a storm will affect rush hour, by Jove.
The National Weather Service, by the way, wants nothing to do with naming winter storms and admonished its personnel last fall against using the Weather Channel’s names.
We doubt there’s much nostalgia for Winter Storm Magnus, which, in addition to being the last storm before Nemo, was named after the “Father of Europe” — Charlemagne, whose name in Latin, the Weather Channel tells us, is Carolus Magnus.
A little history and a classical language go well with cocoa on snowy days.