Ready for Winter Storm Blanche? Weather Channel releases list of storm names

Like it or not, winter is coming. Are you ready for Winter Storm Blanche? How about Jupiter, Pluto, Reggie or Valerie?

For the fifth year, the Weather Channel will name winter storms in a pre-selected alphabetical list that ranges from Argos to Zeno.

The storm-naming criteria are based on National Weather Service thresholds for winter storm warnings and the number of people in the area expected to be affected by the storm, the Weather Channel said in a statement.

Storms will be named if at least 2 million people will be affected and/or if winter storm warnings are expected to be issued for an area of at least 154,000 square miles, which is about the size of Montana.

No other private meteorology firm nor the weather service uses the names coined by The Weather Channel.

“The National Weather Service does not name winter storms and there are no plans to consider naming winter storms,” weather service spokesperson Susan Buchanan said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. However, the weather service rates the severity of major winter storms after the fact.

The Weather Channel said its names are primarily taken from Greek and Roman mythology.

Four winters ago — the first season that the Weather Channel used the list — the most memorable storm was Nemo, which killed 14 people and walloped New England with up to 3 feet of snow in February 2013. Other storm names over the years that caught on include Hercules, Juno and Jonas.

Last year, Winter Storm Jonas was the heaviest snowstorm on record in New York City, according to NOAA, and it pummeled the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, said Tom Niziol, winter weather expert for the Weather Channel.

The full list of names for the winter of 2016-17 includes: Argos, Blanche, Caly, Decima, Europa, Fortis, Gregory, Helena, Iras, Jupiter, Kari, Leo, Maya, Niko, Orson, Pluto, Quid, Reggie, Stella, Theseus, Ursa, Valerie, Wyatt, Xavier, Yuri and Zeno.

A few alliterative headlines this winter might include: Blanche blasts Boston, Caly clobbers Cleveland, Helena hammers Hartford, Leo lashes Lansing and Pluto pounds Pittsburgh.

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