Winter storms don’t currently get names the way hurricanes do, which means we’re forced to come up with our own clever nomenclature when we need to warn people about upcoming bad weather, complain on Twitter about being snowed in, or simply yell invective at the sky. “Snowmageddon,” “Snowpocalypse,” “snOMG,” and their ilk are pretty good for the first two, but when it comes to yelling at the heavens, you simply can’t beat “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” Which is why it’s great news that this is one of the Weather Channel’s 2012-2013 winter storm names, along with other sci-fi classics like Orko, Draco, Q, and Gandolf.
Not that these have anything to do with sci-fi classics, of course. Hurricane names, as you probably know, are alphabetical and switch off between male and female monikers, but apparently the theme for winter storm names will be “sci-fi and fantasy references plus weaselly explanations of why they’re not sci-fi and fantasy references at all.” For instance, “Gandolf” isn’t a misspelling — it’s just that the storm will be named after a character in the 1896 novel The Well at the World’s End. What’s a Lord of the Rings? Sounds disreputable.
Furthermore, Q and Khan are obviously named after the New York subway line and the Genghis repectively. The Weather Channel has never even seen Star Wars. Trek, you say? All right, Star Trek. They haven’t read Harry Potter either — Draco is an Athenian legislator, and Luna is the moon. And Orko is obviously the Basque thunder god. The Weather Channel is surprised you didn’t know that. Probably because you wasted your childhood watching cartoons.
Some of the names are obviously proper highfalutin literature and mythology references — Iago, Jove, Zeus. Others are more borderline (we’re honestly not sure whether Walda is a semi-obscure George R. R. Martin reference, or genuinely named after the Old German word for “ruler”). But it’s great fun watching the Weather Channel do backbends to legitimize the more patently silly ones. Did you know, for instance, that winter storm Rocky will be named for “a single mountain in the Rockies”?
The Weather Channel’s thinking is that people will be more prepared for severe winter weather if they know what to call it. Which doesn’t really explain the eclectic list. Maybe they think that if people know they’re battening down the hatches for Winter Storm Draco, they’ll be less likely to scoff and more likely to mix up some cocktails and settle in for a Harry Potter marathon.