Powerful blizzard Nemo — predicted to be the biggest winter storm in a century in some cities — was bringing heavy snow to the Northeast on Friday morning, interfering with travel and school and basically causing chaos.
Wait. Nemo? Isn’t that the cuddly Disney/Pixar fish?
The Weather Channel chose the name, and its website helpfully defines it. “Nemo: A Greek boy’s name meaning ‘from the valley,’ means ‘nobody’ in Latin.” But to the rest of us, Nemo is the adorable clownfish with the overprotective single dad.
Only outside the Nemo zone do people have time to ponder this blizzard name. Friday morning brought a beehive of activity to the Northeast, according to media reports, as residents stockpiled supplies and tried to get where they wanted to go before mass transit was suspended.
NASA Goddard Images tweeted a remarkable photo Friday morning, noting that “this winter nor’easter is looking massive.”
The impending storm — expected to hit Friday afternoon — is being compared to an infamous 1978 blizzard. That snowfall from that whopper of a storm was cited in the deaths of 100 people, the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Muskal reported Thursday.
But how can Nemo possibly be a killer?
The Weather Channel says on its website that the reason it names storms is to “better communicate the threat and timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events.” A storm with a name is easier to follow, the site says.
Social media seem to have no problem with Nemo the blizzard. Fledgling Twitter account @Nemopocalypse shows an orange fish in a hood. One tweet: ” ‘Nemo’ spelled backwards is a bad joke.” And #nemo is a busy hashtag. Gov. Chris Christie used it when imploring folks to “please be safe out there today.”
The New York mayor’s office tweeted:
It’s not just the Weather Channel that has trouble naming storms. When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration named a tropical storm “Debby,” there were grumblings.
From the L.A. Times’ Rene Lynch:
“The labeling and naming of hurricanes is a long-held practice that helps ease communication and tracking — especially when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“It’s more art than science, however, and can be fraught with controversy.
“There is something about Debby — perhaps it’s the perky y at the end, reminiscent of a pigtailed schoolgirl practicing penmanship — that strikes many as being particularly ill-suited for a deadly storm.”
For now it seems we’re stuck with Nemo, but remember that superstorm Sandy (a mite too perky for that horrid event) began life as Frankenstorm.
– Amy Hubbard