With Cyclone Phethai making landfall, find out how cyclones are named

Cyclone ‘Phethai’ made landfall in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday afternoon bringing moderate to heavy rains even as normal life remained hit in the coastal districts of the state. The severe cyclonic storm, Phethai, lay centered over Bay of Bengal about 320 km east-northeast of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, 160 km south-southeast of Machilipatnam and 190 km south-southeast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh as of 5:30 am on Monday.

Very severe cyclonic storm Titli which is being referred to as a Category 2 hurricane, made landfall in Odisha’s Gopalpur on October 11 with surface winds reaching 126 kmph, the IMD said. Heavy rains lashed  at least eight districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore as Titli with high-velocity winds crossed the south Odisha-north Andhra Pradesh coasts leaving behind uprooted trees. As many as 3 lakh people were evacuated in Odisha on Wednesday in view of severe cyclonic storm Titli.

So a question always comes up in mind, who and how are the cyclones named? The tradition started with hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, where tropical storms that reach sustained wind speeds of 39 miles per hour were given names. If the storm’s wind speed reaches or crosses 74 mph, it is then classified into a hurricane/cyclone/typhoon. Tropical storms are given names and they retain the name if they develop into a cyclone/hurricane/typhoon.

At present, tropical cyclones are officially named by one of the eleven warning centres spread across the globe under the aegis of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). All cyclone names are submitted to the World Meteorological Organization Regional Tropical Cyclone Committee for final approval. The process also involves several countries in the region. To get names more organised, weather scientists start naming cyclones alphabetically, like a cyclone’s name starting with A, would be the first storm to occur in the year.

If the storm causes a large number of deaths or damages, any member of the WMO’s hurricane, typhoon, and tropical cyclone committees can request for the withdrawal of the cyclone’s name from the naming list. A replacement name is then submitted to the committee concerned and voted upon.

Deliberations of naming the cyclones that takes place in the Indian Ocean region began in 2000 and it got the green signal in 2004. Eight countries in the region – Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand – all contributed a set of names which are assigned sequentially whenever a cyclonic storm develops.

With Cyclone Phethai making landfall, find out how cyclones are named

But the question still remains, why to name cyclones? Scientists thought that is easier and less confusing to call a cyclone rather than remembering it by its longitude and latitude.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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