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Explained: How are tropical cyclones named?

The list of 169 cyclone names released by IMD last month, in April, were provided by these countries -- 13 suggestions from each of the 13 countries.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
May 16, 2020 7:36:05 am
Explained: How tropical cyclones are named A couple rides a motorcycle during Cyclone Fani in Puri, Odisha. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recently released a list of 169 names of future tropical cyclones that would emerge in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Cyclones that form in every ocean basin across the world are named by the regional specialised meteorological centres (RSMCs) and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs). There are six RSMCs in the world, including the India Meteorological Department (IMD), and five TCWCs.

As an RSMC, the IMD names the cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, after following a standard procedure. The IMD is also mandated to issue advisories to 12 other countries in the region on the development of cyclones and storms.

How are the cyclones named?

In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), which comprised Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region. After each country sent in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalised the list.

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The WMO/ESCAP expanded to include five more countries in 2018 — Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The list of 169 cyclone names released by IMD last month, in April, were provided by these countries — 13 suggestions from each of the 13 countries. The new list included the last name from the previous list (Amphan) as it remained unused at the time of release.

Incidentally, the IMD has issued an alert for Cyclone Amphan, which is forming over the southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman sea.

Why is it important to name cyclones?

Adopting names for cyclones makes it easier for people to remember, as opposed to numbers and technical terms. Apart from the general public, it also helps the scientific community, the media, disaster managers etc. With a name, it is easy to identify individual cyclones, create awareness of its development, rapidly disseminate warnings to increased community preparedness and remove confusion where there are multiple cyclonic systems over a region.

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What are the guidelines to adopt names of cyclones?

While picking names for cyclones, here are some of the rules that countries need to follow. If these guidelines are following, the name is accepted by the panel on tropical cyclones (PTC) that finalises the selection:

* The proposed name should be neutral to (a) politics and political figures (b) religious believes, (c) cultures and (d) gender
* Name should be chosen in such a way that it does not hurt the sentiments of any group of population over the globe
* It should not be very rude and cruel in nature
* It should be short, easy to pronounce and should not be offensive to any member
* The maximum length of the name will be eight letters
* The proposed name should be provided with its pronunciation and voice over
* The names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again. Thus, the name should be new.

What cyclone names has India suggested?

The 13 names in the recent list that have been suggested by India include: Gati, Tej, Murasu, Aag, Vyom, Jhar (pronounced Jhor), Probaho, Neer, Prabhanjan, Ghurni, Ambud, Jaladhi and Vega.

Some of the names picked by India were suggested by the general public. An IMD committee is formed to finalise the names before sending it to the PTC.

Here is the complete list of 169 names. The first cyclone name which will be chosen will be the one in the first row of the first column — Nisarga by Bangladesh. Next, India’s choice, Gati, will be chosen, and so on. Subsequent cyclones are being named sequentially, column-wise, with each cyclone given the name immediately below that of the previous cyclone. Once the bottom of the column is reached, the sequence moves to the top of the next column.

Bangladesh Nisarga Biparjoy Arnab Upakul Barshon Rajani Nishith
India Gati Tej Murasu Aag Vyom Jhar Probaho
Iran Nivar Hamoon Akvan Sepand Booran Anahita Azar
Maldives Burevi Midhili Kaani Odi Kenau Endheri Riyau
Myanmar Tauktae Michaung Ngamann Kyarthit Sapakyee Wetwun Mwaihout
Oman Yaas Remal Sail Naseem Muzn Sadeem Dima
Pakistan Gulab Asna Sahab Afshan Manahil Shujana Parwaz
Qatar Shaheen Dana Lulu Mouj Suhail Sadaf Reem
Saudi  Jawad Fengal Ghazeer Asif Sidrah Hareed Faid
Sri Lanka Asani Shakhti Gigum Gagana Verambha Garjana Neeba
Thailand Sitrang Montha Thianyot Bulan Phutala Aiyara Saming
UAE Mandous Senyar Afoor Nahhaam Quffal Daaman Deem
Yemen Mocha Ditwah Diksam Sira Bakhur Ghwyzi Hawf

After Hawf, the list moves on to Urmi, Neer, Pooyan etc.

Bangladesh Urmi Meghala Samiron Pratikul Sarobor Mahanisha
India Neer Prabhanjan Ghurni Ambud Jaladhi Vega
Iran Pooyan Arsham Hengame Savas Tahamtan Toofan
Maldives Guruva Kurangi Kuredhi Horangu Thundi Faana
Myanmar Kywe Pinku Yinkaung Linyone Kyeekan Bautphat
Oman Manjour Rukam Watad Al-jarz Rabab Raad
Pakistan Zannata Sarsar Badban Sarrab Gulnar Waseq
Qatar Rayhan Anbar Oud Bahar Seef Fanar
Saudi  Kaseer Nakheel Haboob Bareq Alreem Wabil
Sri Lanka Ninnada Viduli Ogha Salitha Rivi Rudu
Thailand Kraison Matcha Mahingsa Phraewa Asuri Thara
UAE Gargoor Khubb Degl Athmad Boom Saffar
Yemen Balhaf Brom Shuqra Fartak Darsah Samhah

The previous set of names, already utilised, were:

Amphan, the last name, has been used for a storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal.

The new list of 169 names will begin after Cyclone Amphan.

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