Naming Nemo

Good morning, Animals!

So good to be back with you, if only for a day, to once again examine the peculiar politics of our time — which these days includes atmospherics both figurative and literal.

On the literal side, you may have heard something about snow, seeing as how the Center of the Universe — the northeastern United States — is buried under the white stuff. In an apparent attempt to usurp the authority of the National Hurricane Center in the storm-naming business, The Weather Channel took it upon itself to name last night’s giant snowstorm “Nemo,” prompting all manner of consternation among meteorologists. Only hurricanes, it seems, are routinely given names, a duty entrusted to public servants.

With the The Weather Channel’s Nemo gambit, one might wonder whether the next move will be the selling of naming rights for “weather events.” (How many parents are today entertaining snowbound children with private viewings of Disney’s “Finding Nemo”?)

Barring the prospect of storm-naming product-placement, the channel’s baptism of the snowstorm was nonetheless commercially driven. As Alana Semuels of the Los Angeles Times explains:

The Weather Channel decided to start naming storms after it coined a 2011 event Snowtober, a name that got picked up on Twitter and in media outlets and drew more viewers to the site. The channel decided that naming a storm was helpful for those following the storm on social media, and also helped viewers keep track of weather events, said Brian Norcross, senior executive director of weather content and presentation at the Weather Channel.

“We know that when a tropical system is named, people pay more attention,” he said in an interview. “They go out and figure out what is going on — what does it mean to them.”

So, Animals, feel free, in the comments thread to suggest your own names for last night’s storm.

In the meantime, here’s an iconic Billie Holiday recording about a snowstorm. Just watch those icicles form…