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?