From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Cyclone nomenclature
Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India
- The newest cyclone to emerge out of the Bay of Bengal has been named Fani.
- Before that, there were cyclones Hudhud in 2014, Ockhi in 2017 and Titli and Gaja in 2018.
- Each Tropical Cyclone basin in the world has its own rotating list of names.
- For cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, the naming system was agreed by eight member countries of a group called WMO/ESCAP and took effect in 2004.
Naming a Cyclone
- There are five tropical cyclone regional bodies, i.e. ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee, WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones, RA-I Tropical Cyclone Committee, RA-IV Hurricane Committee, and RA-V Tropical Cyclone Committee.
- In general, tropical cyclones are named according to the rules at a regional level.
- The WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones at its twenty-seventh Session held in 2000 in Muscat, Oman agreed in principal to assign names to the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
- After long deliberations among the member countries, the naming of the tropical cyclones over north Indian Ocean commenced from September 2004.
- Eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand participated in the panel and came up with a list of 64 names.
- If public wants to suggest the name of a cyclone to be included in the list, the proposed name must meet some fundamental criteria, the RSMC website says.
- The name should be short and readily understood when broadcast.
- Further, the names must not be culturally sensitive and should not convey any unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning.
How naming takes place?
- These countries submitted eight names each, which are arranged in an 8×8 table.
- The first cyclone after the list was adopted was given the name in the first row of the first column — Onil, proposed by Bangladesh.
- 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.
- So far, the first seven columns have been exhausted, and Fani (again proposed by Bangladesh) is the top name in the last column.
- The next cyclone will be named Vayu. The lists will wind up with Cyclone Amphan, whenever it comes.
When the lists end
- After the 64 names are exhausted, the eight countries will propose fresh lists of names.
- The lists for storms in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins are, however, rotated.
- Exception are, however, made in certain cases — if a storm causes excessive death and destruction, its name is considered for retirement and is not repeated; it is replaced with another name.
Why name cyclones?
- It is generally agreed that appending names to cyclones makes it easier for the media to report on these cyclones, heightens interest in warnings, and increases community preparedness.
- Names are presumed to be easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
- The practice of naming a storm/tropical cyclone would help identify each individual tropical cyclone.
- The purpose of the move was also to make it easier for people to easily understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane in a region, thus to facilitate disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.
- It does not confuse the public when there is more than one tropical cyclone in the same area.
- Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.
- It’s easier and less confusing to say “Cyclone Titli” than remember the storm’s number or its longitude and latitude.