How & Why Are Cyclones Named? All You Need To Know

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A  list of 169 names for tropical cyclones over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea has been issued, covering the 13 member countries including India of the WMO/Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Panel on Tropical Cyclones.

The names for India include Gati, Tej, Murasu, Aag, Vyom, Jhar, Probaho, Neer, Prabhanjan, Ghurni, Ambud, Jaladhi and Vega.

The following criteria were adopted for selection of names in the region:

  1. The proposed name should be neutral to (a) politics and political figures (b) religious believes, (c) cultures and (d) gender,
  2. Name should be chosen in such a way that it does not hurt the sentiments of any group of population over the globe,
  3. It should not be rude and cruel in nature,
  4. It should be short, easy to pronounce and should not be offensive to any WMO Member,
  5. The maximum length of the name will be eight letters,
  6. The proposed name should be provided along with its pronunciation and voice over,
  7. The Panel reserves the right to reject any name, if any of the criteria above is not satisfied,
  8. The finalised names may also be reviewed during the course of time of implementation with the approval of the Panel in its annual session, in case any reasonable objection is raised by any WMO Member both inside and outside the region,
  9. The names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again.

World Meteorological Organisation maintains rotating lists of names that are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin. If a cyclone is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee has retired Dorian (2019) and Laura, Eta and Iota (2020) from the rotating lists of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the death and destruction they caused. It also decided that the Greek alphabet will not be used in future because it creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing.

Tropical cyclones can last for a week or more; therefore there can be more than one cyclone at a time. Weather forecasters give each tropical cyclone a name to avoid confusion. In general, tropical cyclones are named according to the rules at regional level.

In the Atlantic and in the Southern hemisphere (Indian ocean and South Pacific), tropical cyclones receive names in alphabetical order, and women and men’s names are alternated. Nations in the Northern Indian ocean began using a new system for naming tropical cyclones in 2000; the names are listed alphabetically country wise, and are neutral gender wise.

The common rule is that the name list is proposed by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of WMO Members of a specific region, and approved by the respective tropical cyclone regional bodies at their annual/biennual sessions.

Why Are Cyclone Names Important?

  • Identify each individual cyclone.
  • Create awareness of its development.
  • Recognize a tropical cyclone easily
  • Avoid confusion in case of simultaneous occurrence of more than one tropical cyclone over a region
  • Rapidly and effectively disseminate warnings to much wider audience
Courtesy: IMD/ The Weather Channel

How Are Names Selected Generally?

It is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons are not named after any particular person. The names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region. Storms are named for people to easily understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane/typhoon in their region, thus facilitating disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.



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