Major blizzards will now earn names, too

Athena.
Brutus.
Caesar.

These are the first three names on The Weather Channel’s list of names to be given to major blizzards this winter, USA Today reports.

Most of the names will be drawn from a Greek/Roman theme so blizzard names won’t overlap with the names of hurricanes.

“Brutus bashes Buffalo” — now there’s a headline just waiting to be written.

“On a national scale, the most intense winter storms acquire a name through some aspect of pop culture and now social media; for example, Snowmaggeddon and Snotober,” Weather Channel winter weather expert Tom Niziol told USA Today, referring to big snowstorms that blasted parts of the Eastern USA.

Large lake-effect snows in Buffalo have been named locally after snakes and insects, USA Today reports, and tropical storms and hurricanes have been given names informally as far back as the late 1800s. The formal hurricane naming system began in the mid-1950s.

The Weather Channel says naming will occur no more than three days before a winter storm’s expected impact, so forecasters are confident it could have a significant effect on large populations.

Unlike with tropical storms, which have specific naming guidelines based on wind speed, the criteria for winter storms will be flexible, Niziol told USA Today. The most important weather factors will be expected snowfall and/or ice accumulations and wind speed.

Population will play a big role, too, he said. A storm that dumps a foot of snow over the Cascades in Washington state might not get a name, while a storm set to hit Atlanta at rush hour with 1-2 inches of snow might.