Get Ready for Winter Storms: Weather Channel Announces 2020-2021 Storm Names


It’s only October, but winter storms are already on our minds. This has already been an unprecedented year for weather, and there’s an La Nina pattern forming in the Pacific.

That means that cooler and wetter conditions are likely for the US going into October and moving into Winter. With that in mind, the Weather Channel has released their winter storms names for the 2020-2021 season.

The Weather Channel’s practice of naming winter storms is recent, having started in 2011. This practice brings the naming convention in line with the NOAA’s naming of tropical storms. The channel does so to help reporters and meteorologists in issuing warnings about extreme winter weather. It’s far easier to say “Winter Storm Abigail” than “the storm that has been threatening Upstate New York”.

Storm Names for 2020-2021

The storm names released comprise twenty-six names, from A through Z, which differs from the NOAA’s hurricane naming. The NOAA avoids the letters U, X, Y and Z, and only offers 22 names for hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the NOAA reverts to the Greek alphabet if they run out of pre-generated names. The Weather Channel, meanwhile, has never had a winter season run through all twenty-six of their pre-generated names.

This year’s names start with “Abigail” and end with “Zayne,” though it’s unlikely that the channel will need to go through so many names. To meet the naming criteria, a storm has to be severe enough to require a winter storm warning, a blizzard warning, or an ice storm warning.

Moreover, the storm has to affect over two million people or a 400,000 square kilometer area.

Winter Storm Naming History

Historically, the earliest the Weather Channel issued a name to a winter storm was on October 3, 2013. The first storm of the season, on average, is named on October 30.

The last storm of the season, on average, is named on April 29. Generally, the Weather Channel names an average of twenty-three storms throughout the winter season.

Meanwhile, the development of La Nina in the Pacific Ocean has meteorologists expecting a cool, wet winter with many storms. While cold weather is on the way and likely to cover northern regions in snow, the coronavirus pandemic continues to complicated things.

Many epidemiologists fear that the virus could see a resurgence in case numbers as cooler conditions return to the US. Time will tell if the coronavirus is similar to the flu in surging seasonally with the weather.