Humor was not The Weather Channel’s intent when it started to give names to winter storms a few months ago. But
humor is what it has provided — along with a heap of controversy.
The channel bestowed the blizzard that swept into the Northeast on Friday with the name Nemo, conjuring the image of the adorable orange fish from the Disney/Pixar film “Finding Nemo.” On Thursday and Friday, the jokes were flying. “They have named this new nor’easter Nemo. I am not looking for it,” actor and comedian Albert Brooks — who supplied the voice of Nemo’s dad, Marlin — wrote on Twitter.
Many reporters and weather experts rolled their eyes at the name, just as they did when the channel’s storm-naming plan was announced in October. The common criticism is that it is a marketing ploy. The National Weather Service seems to agree; it has advised its forecasters not to follow the channel’s lead, and a spokesman said it had never named winter storms and had no plans to do so.
But the name game was catching on elsewhere, as evidenced by the government officials, news-media outlets and airlines that published advisories using the name. “We’re ready for Nemo,” the Twitter account for Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, claimed Thursday before listing all of the snow-removal tools at the city’s disposal.
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Viewers and Web users seem to be playing along, too. Nemo was one of the top nationwide trends on Twitter on Friday.
Bryan Norcross, the Weather Channel meteorologist who helped conceive the storm-naming system, said the main
rationale for naming is to help raise awareness about the dangers of storms.
The name Nemo in Latin means “no one” or “no man.” Norcross said that derivation, not “Finding Nemo,” was part of the inspiration for the name, along with the Jules Verne character Captain Nemo from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.”
Upcoming Weather Channel storm names: Orko, Plato and Q. On Friday morning, The Weather Channel said Orko had been born: It will affect North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota this weekend.