Storm Naming Takes Personal Approach, Recognizes Unsung Heroes

A unique approach to storm naming has been adopted by meteorological organizations in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. The Met Office, along with Met Eireann and the Dutch weather service KNMI, has chosen to honor individuals who play a crucial role in protecting the public during severe weather events.

Regina Simmons, a member of the warning and informing team at Natural Resources Wales, was thrilled to discover that a storm would be named after her. Simmons, who specializes in predicting river and coastal flooding, hopes that her storm name will never have to be used. Nevertheless, she recognizes the value in personalizing storms. By giving storms names, people are more likely to engage with the details and understand their potential impact, enabling them to plan and prepare accordingly.

Storm naming has been practiced for nine years now, and its effectiveness is evident. Will Lang, head of situational awareness for the Met Office, believes that naming storms facilitates effective communication and provides clarity to those who might be affected. It also serves as a way to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of partners across the UK.

The names chosen for the 2023-24 storm season highlight the contributions of various professionals. Storm Debi is named after Debi Garft, a senior policy officer in the Scottish government’s flooding team who recently retired. Met Éireann’s submissions pay tribute to famous scientists, including astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell. KNMI often includes Dutch names, many of which are suggested by the public.

While being the namesake of a storm is considered an honor, Simmons sincerely hopes that the naming process won’t ever progress through the entire alphabet. The names provided each year are reserved for storms expected to have a “medium” or “high” impact, and it’s her desire that severe weather events will be minimal.

Q: Who selects the names for storms?
A: The Met Office, along with Met Eireann and the Dutch weather service KNMI, choose the names for storms.

Q: Why are storms named?
A: Naming storms helps improve communication of severe weather and provides clarity for those who may be impacted.

Q: Do the names correspond to people or professions?
A: Yes, the names selected for the storms often honor individuals who play a significant role in protecting the public during severe weather events.

Q: How long has storm naming been practiced?
A: Storm naming has been done for nine years.

Q: Who suggests the names?
A: The suggestions for storm names come from various sources, including professionals in the field and members of the public.

Q: What determines if a storm is named?
A: Storms are named when they are expected to have a “medium” or “high” impact in the UK, Ireland, or the Netherlands.