How are cyclones named in the world?
In the beginning, the cyclones were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named “Antje” became known as Antje’s hurricane. In the late 1800s, they were named after Catholic saints. In 1953, the cyclones were named after women as the ships were always referred to as female and often given women's names. In 1979, male names were introduced. At present, the cyclones are named in a systematic way.
What is a cyclone?
The term 'Cyclone' is derived from the Greek word 'Cyclos' which means 'Coiling of the Snake'. Cyclones are created by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area and are usually accompanied by violent storms and severe weather conditions. Basically, a tropical cyclone is a deep low-pressure area.
How are cyclones named?
If the speed of a cyclone is more than 34 nautical miles per hour then it becomes necessary to give it a special name. If the speed of the storm reaches or crosses 74 mph, it is then classified into a hurricane/cyclone/typhoon.
The cyclones that are formed in any ocean basin around the world are named by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs). There are a total of six RSMCs in the world, including the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (ESCAP) have been naming cyclonic storms since 2000. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) names the cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. It also issues advisories to 12 other nations in the region on the development of cyclones and storms.
In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP-- Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand-- decided to name cyclones in the region. In 2018, five more countries were added-- Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. After the aforementioned countries sent in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalise the list.
In April 2020, IMD released a list of 169 cyclone names. 13 suggestions were sent in by the aforementioned WMO/ESCAP member nations.
Why are cyclones named?
The cyclones are named to help people identify them easily as it would be difficult to remember numbers and technical terms. Additionally, appending names makes it easier for the media, scientific community and the disaster management community to identify and report individual cyclones, disseminate warnings, increase community preparedness, and ward off confusion in areas that witness multiple cyclones.
Guidelines to name cyclones
The guidelines to name the cyclones are as follows:
1- The proposed name must be neutral to politics and political figures, religious beliefs, cultures and genders.
2- It must not hurt the sentiments of any group of people across the world.
3- It must not be rude and cruel in nature.
4- The name must be short, easy to pronounce and inoffensive to any member.
5- It must be of a maximum of eight letters and be given with its pronunciation and voice over.
6- The names of cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again.
A few examples:
1- Cyclone "Okhi", which came in November 2017, was named by Bangladesh, which means "Eye" in the Bengali language. Cyclone Fani or Foni was also named by Bangladesh. Fani means “Hood of a Snake”.
2- On 13 June 2019, cyclone "Vayu" hit the Gujarat coast. It was named by India and was derived from Sanskrit and Hindi language meaning 'Wind'.
3- The current cyclone 'Tauktae' has been named by Myanmar after a reptile which means 'Highly Vocal Lizard'