Should the UK start naming storms?
The number, frequency and rapid movement of recent UK storms has meant that, for many people and the media, one anonymous unnamed storm has merged into another. Identifying impacts and explaining the specific nature and different characteristics of each storm is often confusing. The current procedure of UK storm nomenclature is by date, such as “the 2013 Dec23-24 storm” or, for more infamous specific high impact events, randomly adopted names are used, such as StJude. Storm identification in the UK seems, therefore, to be rather an ad hoc, random, informal and possibly even disorganised process. For a country that experiences a lot of storms and, seemingly, an increasing number of intense meteorological events, it would seem like a timely idea to START NAMING UK STORMS!
Naming storms that impact Germany and Central Europe has been a tradition at the Institute for Meteorology of the Free University (FU) Berlin since 1954. They run an interesting adopt-a-vortex scheme that allows users to (pay?) to adopt a LOW. more here… http://www.met.fu-berlin.de/adopt-a-vortex/ Some forecasters in the UK use the Berlin vortex Euro-names already, especially on twitter. Other professional forecasters fear that using such storm names will not help public understanding of meteorological events (not least because some of the worst UK storms are wave depressions that are spawned by rapid cyclogenesis from more persistent parent lows; this is more complex than a hurricane which tends to stay as one system).
Better known are the names given to hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific since 1945. Names like Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and Typhoon Haiyan are iconic in the public imagination and formally arranged by the World Meteorological Organisation using a formal alphabetical list. http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/Storm-naming.html. Whilst UK storms are not usually on the same scale as tropical hurricanes, they nervetheless have the potential for significant economic, environmental and social impacts.
There are several benefits of naming storms, not least a heightened public awareness if storms have unique names. With storm damage and intensity set to increase for the UK and considering Atlantic storms arrive here first in Europe, it seems like a good idea to start our own system of storm naming. The UKMO or http://www.rmets.org/ could run such a scheme and funds raised could be charitable or go towards funding the scheme.
A scheme similar to that of Adopt-A-Vortex where the public can pay to name a storm would help fund it.
Have your say below and, as a community we might be able to ask the UKMO to consider this as a proposal, you never know!