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Naming blizzards? Why North Dakota's first of the season was 'Anita'

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The Grand Forks region has dug out from its first blizzard of the season, known as Blizzard Anita. The storm, which struck eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota on Saturday, closed highways and snarled traffic. One fatal crash was reported.

The blizzard's name comes from the Grand Forks Herald, which started giving names to Red River Valley blizzards and major winter storms in 1989. The newspaper has tagged storms in honor of community figures of note. This blizzard was named for the newspaper’s finance director Anita Geffre, who spearheaded the annual Santa Claus Girls drive to provide toys to area children. How's that for a prairie status symbol?

The Weather Channel started naming what it called 'noteworthy winter storms' during the 2012-13 winter season. At the time, the network said it would make it easier to follow storms and would raise awareness about weather dangers.

Last February, the New York Times reported that many reporters and weather experts "...rolled their eyes at the channel's storm-naming." The National Weather Service told its forecasters not to use the names, but some airlines, governors’ offices and media outlets played along. Last winter the Weather Channel gave storms names like Athena, Caesar, Freyr, Iago, and Nemo.

USA Today reported this past October that the Weather Channel will once again name this winter's snowstorms and blizzards. The naming system "was a terrific success" last winter, said Bryan Norcross, meteorologist at The Weather Channel. Because the Weather Channel is owned by NBC Universal, NBC stations and networks will probably use the winter storm names, Norcross added.

This winter's Weather Channel storm names were chosen by high school students in Bozeman, Mont., as an assignment in Latin class. The full list, made up of figures from Greek and Roman mythology, includes Atlas, Boreas, Cleon, Dion, Electra, Falco, Gemini, Hercules, Ion, Janus, Kronos, Leon, Maximus, Nika, Orion, Pax, Quintus, Rex, Seneca, Titan, Ulysses, Vulcan, Wiley, Xenia, Yona, Zephyr.

Here's hoping we don't ever have to listen to a TV weatherman talk about Blizzard Zephyr.

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