Snow business

This year's winter storm has been brought to you by....

The old chestnut that "everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it" has been disproved. In the United States, somebody is doing something: assigning names to previously anonymous meteorological events.

We're all familiar with the system of naming extreme summer storms, such as cyclones and hurricanes. But now the Weather Channel, a specialty cable television network, has decided that winter storms with "destructive potential" deserve the same sort of specific treatment. This is not a position currently shared by the National Weather Service, the official US government agency that administers these things.

It's unclear, so far, that Americans are truly eager to put a name to the storm that has just buried their car under a metre of snow.

However, it does seem likely that the commercial potential of this change will soon be exploited. Rather than using a list of monikers from ancient history and mythology - such as Athena, Brutus and Caesar - the Weather Channel could have opted to sell the naming rights to its commercial clients. No doubt this will dawn on them soon.

In a time when everything from arenas to metro stops is sponsored, why couldn't each winter storm brought to you by a snowploughing company or a travel agency that specialises in warm Caribbean destinations?

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