Currently, we are on the verge of cyclone “Yaas” which yesterday strikes the coast of Odisha. Have you ever wondered, who gives such beautiful names to these dangerous cyclones? Some of those beautiful but furious cyclone names are “Titli”, “Ampham”, “Yaas” and “Vayu” etc. Don’t you want to know every single piece of information regarding the “naming of cyclones”? Let’s start…
Cyclones are created by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area and are usually accompanied by violent storms and severe weather conditions. The term ‘Cyclone’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Cyclos’ which means ‘Coiling of the Snake’. Just the same you have looked into the picture above. There are various types of cyclones named according to their locations. In the western Pacific oceans, they are called Typhoons, in the North Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans basin, they are known as Hurricanes, whereas in Indian Oceans and South Pacific Oceans, they are called Cyclones.
History of naming the cyclones
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.
Cyclone “Okhi”, which came in November 2017, was named by Bangladesh, which means “Eye” in the Bengali language. Cyclone Fani was also named by Bangladesh. Fani means “Hood of a Snake”.
The tradition of naming cyclones started with hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. They were named arbitrarily, after the names of places or objects destroyed or disturbed by the cyclones such as “Anjie’s hurricane.” In the late 1800, they were named after Catholic saints or corrupt politicians. During 1953 in the USA the naming of cyclones was allowed after the names of women as the ships were always referred to as female and often given women’s names. However, due to protests by various women’s organizations, this was discontinued.
Current institutions responsible for naming
Although, after world war II the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers (RSMCs) and Tropical Warning Centers (TCWCs) are made responsible for the naming of cyclones formed in any ocean basin around the world. Currently, there are 6 RSMCs and 5 TCWCs and the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is one among the six RSMCs.
The North Indian Ocean includes the region of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, an India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) RSMC in New Delhi is responsible for naming. In 2000, the WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organization/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific) Panel on Tropical Cyclones decided to start naming the cyclones in this region. The Panel consisted of 8 member countries namely Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Each nation provides 8 names, so the panel in total includes 64 names. Later in 2018, five more countries were added to this list, were Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Yemen. Every aforementioned WMO/ESCAP member nations has given 13 names each, and the list has total of 169 names. After suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalize the list.
IMD also provides advisory to 12 other nations in the region on the development of cyclones and storms.
Once the bottom of the column is reached, the sequence moves to the top of the next column.
IMD website mention a list of guidelines to be followed while naming the cyclones. They are as follows:
- The proposed should be neutral to politics and political figures, religious beliefs, culture and gender.
- Names should be chosen in such a way that it doesn’t hurt the sentiments of any section or group of people across the world.
- The name should not be rude or cruel in nature.
- It should be short and easy to pronounce, inoffensive and also it should be easily understandable by the people of the region.
- The maximum length of the name should be eight letters and be given with its pronunciation and voice over..
- The names of cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again.
Why the cyclones are named??
The cyclones are named for the identification of individual cyclones by the scientific community, disaster managers, media, and the general public. During the time of cyclone different warnings are released, and the easy dissemination of the information is dependent on the name. To create awareness about its development, to remove confusion when there is more than one cyclone over a region at the same time, and also an easy remembrance.
It’s easier and less confusing to say “Cyclone Titli” than remember the storm’s number or its longitude and latitude.
Factors like wind speed, wind direction, temperature, and humidity contribute to the development of cyclones. Before cloud formation, water takes up heat from the atmosphere to change into a vapor. When water vapor changes back to liquid form as raindrops, this heat is released into the atmosphere. The heat released into the atmosphere warms the air around. The air tends to rise and causes a drop in pressure. More air rushes to the center of the storm. This cycle is repeated. Since Hurricanes derive their energy from heated seawater which can be prevented by the presence of upper-level winds that disrupt the storm circulation forcing it to lose its strength.
Environmentally cyclones can be important to local ecosystems. eg reefs and the distribution of plants have adapted to them. Cyclones can have an economic and emotional effect on the people and property directly affected. Thousands of people have died or been displaced by them. Hundreds of homes could be destroyed causing millions of dollars worth of damage.