Naming our storms

15th March, 2016

At Ice Watch, we’ve been blogging about extreme weather in the UK all this winter, including most of the winter storms. As you’ve probably noticed, for the first year ever our storms have been given names. If you wondered why, read on.

Why do our storms have names?
In the past few years, UK storms have been named randomly, meaning the same storm could sometimes be referred to by several different names. The Met Office felt that using one system to name storms would aid communication about severe weather across different platforms. We saw this in action in December 2011, when ‘Hurricane Bawbag’ trended worldwide on Twitter, although it was not reported by its popular name by national broadcasters. The Met Office hopes that storm names will raise awareness and help us to prepare for the worst.

In a statement, the Met Office said:

“In this way the public will be better placed to keep themselves, their property and businesses safe.”

Who names our storms?
The Met Office launched the Name Our Storms campaign on 8th September last year. The pilot project saw thousands of members of the public suggest names for wind storms via email, Facebook and Twitter. The final list of 21 names follows US National Hurricane Centre convention, with each name alternating between male and female, and beginning with a different letter of the alphabet except Q, U, X, Y and Z.

How were the names chosen?
The Met Office said that “the main factor in the selection process was the popularity of the names – how many times they were suggested – which is why so many of them are in common use”. However, if a name has already been used for a devastating weather event, such as Hurricane Katrina, it won’t be re-used.

When is a storm named?
Storms are given names when they meet certain criteria based on the Met Office’s existing National Severe Weather Warnings service. The Met Office or Met Eireann can name a storm when it is forecast to have a medium or high impact.

Will storms be named next year?
The Met Office says that they will review the Name Our Storms pilot project at the end of the year to see if it has been successful. If it has, we’ll be able to suggest names again for storms in winter 2016/17.

The Met Office says “stormy weather is not unusual in the winter”, reminding us all to take precautions when severe weather is forecast. We’ve seen a number of severe storms this winter, from widespread flooding in December to Storm Jake just a couple of weeks ago, and the damage to UK businesses has been serious. Protect your business from extreme winter weather with Ice Watch. Call us on 01708 633900 to find out more and get a free quote.
Why Do Our Storms Have Names

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