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Blizzard Slams Northeast, “Nemo” Brand Name Stirring Controversy

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(CNN) This weekend's big snow storm has one thing passed major winter storms have never had-- a brand name.

Last year, The Weather Channel decided it would start naming winter storms.

Thus, Nemo.

The idea was to draw more attention to storms and get people to prepare, according to Bryan Norcross, senior executive director of weather content for the company.

Since this storm is hitting heavily populated areas, the Nemo name is getting much greater attention than the 13 smaller winter storms that came before it this year. Anyone remember winter storm Brutus?

In case you're curious, the name Nemo, like most of the other names in the 26 picked for this year, is meant to harken back to Greek or Roman mythology, not the Pixar-Disney movie "Finding Nemo." And no, the network does not intend to sell the storm naming rights to the highest bidders.

While the National Weather Service tell WHNT News 19 they do not have an offical position on the practice of naming winter storms they have instructed their staff to not use the name coined by the Weather Channel.

"The National Weather Service does not name winter storms because a winter storm's impact can vary from one location to another, and storms can weaken and redevelop, making it difficult to define where one ends and another begins.While the National Weather Service does not name winter storms, we do rate major winter storms after the fact.

--Susan Buchanan, National Weather Service Public Affairs.

Tens of millions of people are in a very large and potentially dangerous blizzard's path, and a trail of thousands of canceled flights has frustrated travel plans in some 60 airports across the nation.

Amtrak also has canceled many trips in the Northeast corridor. And some 6,000 Massachusetts National Guardsmen were put on storm duty as residents across the region stocked up on essential supplies.

The heaviest weather started Friday at around 5 p.m. until Saturday morning, with up to two feet in snow. The size and scope of this storm, forecasters say, could be of historic proportions.

"I want to be clear -- 2 or 3 feet of snow in this period of time is a profoundly different type storm than we've had to deal with," said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Snowfall could descend anywhere between 2 and 3 inches per hour at the height of the blizzard.

Governors across New England and New York have declared states of emergency, and all cars and trucks -- except emergency vehicles -- must now be off Massachusetts and Connecticut roadways. A similar ban in Rhode Island took effect at 5 p.m.

Violating that ban could incur a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Accumulations are expected to continue through Saturday and spawn potentially deadly weather.

High winds could also stir up trouble at sea and push flood waters up and over Northeastern coastlines, adding to the misery to those who lost their homes just months ago in Superstorm Sandy.

(CNN Contributed to this report)