Goodbye "Snowmageddon XIX", hello "Gandolf"

The Weather Channel has decided to begin naming winter storms the way we already name tropical storms. But while tropical storm nomenclature is an organized and official process, carried out by a branch of the United Nations, winter storms will be named apparently at the whim of The Weather Channel. The result: Not only can we move past calling every blizzard either Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse, but we also get to hear news anchors discuss the damage caused by Winter Storm Gandolf. (Please note that this is Gandolf, not Gandalf. The former is a character in The Well at the World's End, an 1896 fantasy novel. The latter is probably tied up in intellectual property restrictions.)


  1. The Q storm will suddenly form a tornado in the middle of Kansas and kill two completely human humans… nothing odd about the humans. Yup, just a bunch of humans that possess no special powers and definitely don’t belong to a god like race of aliens. 

  2. > Please note that this is Gandolf, not Gandalf. The former is a
    > character in The Well at the World’s End. . .

    Or, more famously among college English students, the narrator’s nemesis in Robert Browning’s dramatic poem “The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church”.

    1. Oh no! Give William Morris his props! AT least this particular English student, though a fan of Browning, knows Gandolf from Morris. The Well at World’s End is, btw, available at Project Gutenberg. And I highly recommend reading Morris, especially Dream of John Ball and News from Nowhere. 

  3. Tolkien got the names of Gandalf and all the dwarves [sic] from “The Hobbit” from traditional sources.  His estate has no more exclusive rights to that name than Disney has exclusive rights to the name Hercules.

  4. Gandalf is one of the dwarves from the Norse Eddas, along with Thorin, Durin, and so on. It would be very strange to have the names restricted.

    1. Fair enough. I’m just making assumptions about why on Earth The Weather Channel would name the storm after the 19th century book, when everybody who knows the name Gandolf knows it from Lord of the Rings. 

    2. It means literally, “wand elf” in Old Norse. Since English and its previous forms and influences are used to represent Westron (“Samwise Gamgee” is in actuality Banazir Galbasi), it shows that some men of Middle Earth started calling this mysterious wizard “the elf with the staff” because that’s what they assumed he was. Tolkien probably thought it incongruous that a Wand Elf would ever associate with dwarves, and wanted to invent a plausible backstory. This same inventiveness shows in his imagining of the “original” “Hey Fiddle Diddle”.

  5. This makes me grumpy (note that’s not Grumpy, from Disney fame; that’s right this change does not turn me into a surly, cartoon dwarf). Get off my lawn, Weather Channel, and take your stupid naming of weather occurrences with you.

  6. The weather channel and are more about sensationalism that trivializes weather than about giving good weather information. It’s not surprising that they’d do this unilaterally, without input from the NWS or anyone else. I already take all their forecasts with a grain of salt (okay, more so than from even regular forecasters). This will just make their forecasts harder to believe.

    1. Their forecasts and their radar suck.  I use wunderground.  It’s much more accurate (and based locally, not that I’m shamelessly plugging or anything).

      1. The Weather Channel bought Weather Underground in July. I believe the forecasts remain separate. I’m partial to NWS or wunderground.

        Also, wether underground has really cool historical radar data. You can go back and look at the tracks and cells of storms, and watch their animation. Also, their WunderMap is an amazing teaching tool for my kids. They love to pick out locations on the map and watch the movement of the spring storms as the approach. It’s really cool to use full screen.

    1. “…and we can expect snow flurries from the north gusting to twenty leagues per sandglass, along with the foul voice of Saruman. Chains or the feather-light grace of an elf are required for travelling above the snow line. Coming up after the break – Rivendell issues a lembas recall. How will it affect YOU?”

  7. Man… I’ve already had enough issues with work sick days because of fearful newscasts saying I’m going to get a blizzard in south Minneapolis suburbs..  and cancel my 45 minute drive.. only to get a dusting of snow. More weather fear/terror headed our way.  ick.

  8. Oy vey!  What next?  Are they going to start naming heavy rainfalls? 

    Jeepers, arount here, snowstorms are pretty common.  Two years ago, we had a 15cm+ snowstorm every week (Really!) for about two months. 

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