LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – This week, we saw winter storm Frida move into the region, dumping around 3-6 inches of snow for mid-Michigan.
Living in this area, we are no stranger to seeing winter storms, but what exactly must happen for a winter storm to be given a name, and how do meteorologists decide what name to give it?
In order to understand the naming processes for winter storms, we first need to understand what must happen for a winter storm to be named.
A winter system must meet at least one of the three following requirements.
It must provide winter storms, blizzards, or ice storm warnings for at least 2 million people, or do the same for an area of 400,000 square kilometers (which is roughly the size of the state of Montana).
Or, it must be evident from the forecast that the system will be of historic or record-breaking proportions.
Now, that is a key point in the naming process. This means that a minor snowstorm producing 3 inches of snow in Florida could be classified as a winter storm, as they do not normally see snow; so, any amount of snow could be of historic or record-breaking proportions.
Winter storms do not just name themselves, they are named by The Weather Channel, with the intent of better communicating any impacts from a major or complex storm system.
The system for naming winter storms is quite simple, they will choose a name that starts with each letter of the alphabet, and the names will all go in alphabetical order, we just saw Winter Storm Frida, so the next winter storm will be named Garrett.
Now, there are some restrictions on names that The Weather Channel can pick, they must avoid choosing any current Atlantic and eastern Pacific Hurricane names that are on the list for the next 6 years, as well as any retired hurricane names.