Winter Storm Warnings are up for Southwest New Jersey, Northern Delaware, and Southeast Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, PA, where Winter Storm Athena is expected to drop 3 - 5" of snow today through Thursday morning. Slushy accumulations of up to 1" are likely in Baltimore, and non-accumulating snow will fall as far south as Washington, DC.
Athena, the season's first Nor'easter and first winter storm to get a name under The Weather Channel's new naming system, is spreading rain and high winds into Southern New Jersey and Eastern Long Island, NY this morning.
The decision to name Athena
The Weather Channel announced in October that they would begin naming winter storms this year, in an effort to aid in raising awareness and reduce the risks the public faces. One of the main criteria for naming a storm is its impact on populated areas; the meteorology of the storm may not get it named, if the storm doesn't affect a populated area. If Hurricane Sandy had not devastated the region of coast being affected by today's Winter Storm Athena, it may not have gotten a name.
With so many people still under recovery efforts even well inland, the combination of heavy, wet snow and wind prompted the decision to name Athena. The models have been trending towards more cold air getting pulled into this system, so it is possible Athena could drop heavier snows than currently advertised.
The National Weather Service will not be referring to today's Nor'easter as "Athena". They put out this internal directive: "The NWS does not use named winter storms in our products. Please refrain from using the term Athena in any of our products."