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Andy Prest: 'Cyclone bomb?!' Weather names are getting really wild

When I was a kid we didn't have atmospheric rivers or weather bombs, we had rain and wind
Ambleside High Tides MW Web
We sent our photographer out to photograph the 'bomb cyclone' at West Vancouver's Ambleside Park on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, and this is what he came back with. Feel the power!

There’s a rumour that Facebook is considering a name change.

Rebranding can be tough. For instance, what new name could Facebook adopt to help them shake the pesky reputation they’ve gained in some circles for being responsible for the fall of democracy? That’s a tough question. Is taken?

You see, rebranding is tough. But I have some advice for anyone interested in going through an image change. If you really want to learn the secrets of a successful rebrand, you need to ask the weather.

Oh yes, the weather. No one has had a snappier PR bump over the last few years than good old rain, sun, cloud, snow and wind.

For years, those were the main ways to describe weather. Periodically you’d get socked in by fog, or zapped by a bit of lightning. On rare occasions you’d get something weird like hail, or sleet. And you knew you were in trouble if you got caught in the middle of a blizzard, or hurricane, or flood or tornado. That was it. That was the weather.

Here on the West Coast over the last few days, it was really windy, and then really rainy. In years gone by during weather like this, if someone asked what was going on outside, you would say something like this: “it’s windy.” Or perhaps, “it’s rainy.”

Do you remember in 2006 when it got so windy on the West Coast that it blew down thousands of trees in Stanley Park, levelling huge swaths of forest? Do you remember what we called that devastating event? We called it a “windstorm.”

That was it. Wind, sun, cloud, rain, snow, storm. All of that, however, was before the rebrand.

Now? You all know what they are calling the weather event that hit the West Coast this week, right? That weather that we used to call wind and rain? It’s not called that anymore. It’s called ... a weather bomb!!

What? A weather bomb!? That sounds terrifying, and awesome! That sounds like something a James Bond villain would plant in a hot air balloon, and 007 would fly up there in a jetpack and then defuse the weather bomb and then crash the hot air balloon into a zoo where he’d tame a lion and then have sex with the zookeeper. Or something like that.

Anyways, the point is, “weather bomb” is one heck of a rebrand for “wind and rain,” and it seems like we’re all just going along with it.

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg, or as they’d probably say now, the tip of the “frostula the floating ice mountain of death berg.” 

In the last 10 days we’ve been hit by not one but two “atmospheric rivers,” which as far as I can tell is the new term for “a lot of rain.”

And earlier this summer we all got trapped under the “heat dome,” which to be honest, was far more brutal and deadly than any old “heat wave” I can remember.

And who can forget getting hit over the last few years by a pineapple express, an Arctic outflow or even the dreaded polar vortex.

Come on, a polar vortex? That sounds like a wrestling move.

“Listen here, brother. Once you get caught in my polar vortex, you’ll be out cold!”

So yeah – who knows if the weather really is getting wilder, but the way we talk about it sure is. And I love it. 

The only better rebrand of the past few years is the way people describe the moon. For that one I blame our sister publication Vancouver Is Awesome, which always seems to be pumping up some moon phase with a crazy name.

A quick search turns up the “full hunter moon,” the “full buck moon,” the “big blue donkey moon,” the “full worm moon,” the “super blood flower moon,” and the “full beaver moon.” I swear I made up only one of those.

So if you’re looking for a good rebrand, find out which PR firm got the moon and weather account, and do whatever they say.

And if you like this column, make sure to share it on FaceBomb. 

Andy Prest is the sports and features editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly.

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