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From ‘Ajax’ to ‘Zandor,’ Winter Storm Names Reviewed

A storm by any other name... The Weather Channel released its list of winter storm names for 2015-16.
A storm by any other name… The Weather Channel released its list of winter storm names for 2015-16.

Warwick, RI — The Weather Channel is at it again.

For the fourth winter, the national TV station has come up with a list of names for winter storms, which has proven less than universally popular in the media.

According to the Washington Post [no relation], there’s actually a criteria used to figure out which snow/sleet/rain event earns a name: starting last year, only storms that would impact 2 million people or 400,000 sq. km can be named.

Last year, that meant 22 otherwise anonymous and repetitive weather events were Commentarychristened with monikers like Juno, Marcus, and local favorite Neptune.

And for those who are wondering, it’s not some group of introverted but well-read meteorologists who come up with the names — according to WaPo, it’s a group of introverted but well-read high school students in a Latin club in Montana.

The Weather Channel insists that the naming scheme is helpful to provide a shorthand way to identify storms on social media, which typically becomes the dominant way that people communicate about potential snowfall totals and share pictures of how deep their car is buried.

On the other hand, it could just be a way to introduce names into the wider culture that would otherwise never be used.

Here are the winter storm names for 2015-16, with associations [good and bad] that people might make with them, with a little help from Google results that will fall to the second page after this winter:

Ajax: It’s a cleaning product, a Greek mythological hero, and an abbreviation for asynchronous Java script and XML coding applications. A little something for everyone there.

Bella: A character in the Twilight series and part of the name of a house of ill repute in Deadwood, the Bella Union. The age of 40 will be the determining factor in which reference someone gets.

Cara: An actual person’s name that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to give your own daughter. There’s a Cara Delevingne out there who’s apparently an actress and who could stand to buy a vowel.

Delphi: Site of a famous oracle in Greek mythology and an auto technology company, meaning that a big storm by that name could forebode worse to come, especially for cars.

Echo: The nerd value on this one is huge — Echo Base was the Rebel stronghold on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Those AT-ATs would make some great parking ban enforcers.

Ferus: A company that supplies flammable substances and an old word that means “wild” or “savage” [think “feral”]. Most people will likely make “Bueller? Bueller?” jokes, thinking it’s actually spelled “Ferris.”

Goliath: And what happens when this storm reaches New England and drops 2 in. before turning to slush? Could confuse the story of David [the little guy who won] and Goliath and make people think the Biblical story was about snowstorms that fizzled out before reaching shore.

Hera: Chief goddess in Greek mythology. This one better drop 2 to 4 ft. or else it just won’t live up to the billing.

Ilias: Sounds like the name of a guy who competitively pulls jet planes on runways, or competes in Olympic weightlifting for Bulgaria. Also lends itself to “License to Ilias” headlines.

Jonas: Name of an aging boy band, former New England Patriots player, and somewhat obscure Weezer song. Also another Biblical reference, this one to a boater who gets swallowed up by a whale and emerges alive three days later.

Kayla: Not to be confused with “Layla,” the Eric Clapton song — although the potential for a parody tune is certainly there. And if this storm fizzles out, expect to be bombarded with McKayla Moroney’s “not impressed face” memes.

Lexi: Total stripper name.

Mars: Perfect opportunity to update the Neptune joke of “leaving snow all the way to Uranus.” Also name of a candy bar that’s good to have in a power outage.

Nacio: The one true mystery of the whole list. Means “nation” in Spanish; could also be the name of a mafia hitman or patron saint of snow shovels.

Olympia: The mountain of the gods in Greek mythology. Also a shoe store and the name of a former U.S. senator, Olympia Snowe, and the cousin of former Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis. Reserved for high [and high-attaining] people.

Petros: Sounds vaguely gasoline-related. Also a Biblical reference to Peter, rendered in Greek. Building a church on snow is not recommended.

Quo: Used in phrases having to do with government when journalists want to sound smart because they’re using Latin. “Quid pro quo” is a substitute for “bribe,” while “status quo” is used to mean “the way things are.” Some enterprising headline writer is sure to go the “What’s the Status of Quo?” route this winter.


Selene: Alternate spelling of “Celine,” which everyone will think is the actual spelling and will use as an excuse to post South Park memes featuring Ugly Bob. [Find Not Without My Anus on Dailymotion.]

Troy: Famous Greek city memorialized in the Iliad and poorly CGI rendered as a backdrop for a crappy 2004 movie. Home of the famous Helen of Troy, the “face that launched a thousand ships” whose abduction led to the Trojan War.

Ursula: Younger people will know the name from The Little Mermaid. Older folks will associate the name with the Books of Earthsea author LeGuin. Neither will understand why a snowstorm would be called ‘Ursula.’

Vexo: Pronounced VEEK-so, it means “to shake or jolt violently” or “to vex or trouble.” Getting this far in the list, either one of those will no doubt be appropriate.

Waylon: The first of a couple of ironic and contradictory names. One of the songs made popular by the country singer Waylon Jennings was  titled “The Days of Sand and Shovels,” which in fact was not about digging out from a snowstorm.

Xenos: Another contradictory name that means “stranger” in Greek. After 23 storms, getting to this name will mean that snow is far too familiar.

Yolo: Will work as a name until someone dies from a heart attack while shoveling out their car. Not the way to YOLO, people.

Zandor: A possible alternate spelling of “Xander,” which made the list last year. Also sounds like a newly-approved medication: “You should not drive when under the influence of Zandor. Call your doctor if you experience loss of consciousness, abnormal heartbeat, or an erection lasting more than four hours. In very rare cases, Zandor will actually treat the condition for which it was prescribed.


This story was updated to correct the relationship between Olympia and Michael Dukakis.

Joe Hutnak -
Author: Joe Hutnak - [email protected]

Co-Founder and Editor-at-Large of Warwick Post. For Warwick Post-related inquiries or communications, email [email protected]

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