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From Roanu, Hud Hud, Aila to Vardah – Here's how cyclones are named

Vardah is the fourth major cyclone to spin out of the Bay of Bengal and hit India this year, after Roanu, Kyant and Nada. Here is how the tradition of naming cyclones began with hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.


From Roanu, Hud Hud, Aila to Vardah – Here's how cyclones are named

New Delhi: Severe cyclonic storm 'Vardah', which is expected to make a landfall in the afternoon on Monday, has got its name from Pakistan. 

'Vardah', which means 'red rose', is expected to hit northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh around 1.30 pm, according to Indian Navy. 

According to the meteorological department, the cyclonic storm 'Vardah' over Bay of Bengal is moving further at a speed of around 13 kmph.  

By the time it makes landfall, its intensity is expected to reduce considerably.

The last cyclone that hit Chennai was 'Nada', a name suggested by Oman.

'Vardah' is the fourth major cyclone to spin out of the Bay of Bengal and hit India this year, after Roanu, Kyant and Nada. 

How are cyclones named?

The tradition of naming cyclones began with hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, where tropical storms that reached sustained wind speeds of 39 miles per hour were given unique names.

For past few hundreds of years severe cyclonic storms in the Atlantic Ocean were given names.

Initially, the residents of the Caribbean Islands would name the storms after the saint of the day from the Roman Catholic calendar for the day on which the hurricane/cyclone occurred.

This tradition of naming cyclones continued till World War II, when forecasters and meteorologists started using female names to identify the storms. I

In 1953, it is believed, the US weather office officially adopted the idea and created a new phonetic alphabet (international) of women's names from A to W, leaving out Q, U, X, Y and Z.

However, it was met with protests by several women's right bodies in the 60s and 70s which forced the authorities to change the naming procedure for the storms and include male names in 1978.

Henceforth, the first tropical storm of any year was given the name beginning with the letter "A", the second with the letter "B" and so on. In even-numbered years, odd-numbered storms got men's names and in odd-numbered years, odd-numbered storms got women's names.

The process of naming cyclones involves several countries in the region and is done under the aegis of the World Meteorological Organization.

Naming of Indian cyclones

Naming cyclones in the Indian Ocean region started in 2000 and a formula was fixed in 2004.

As per the agreed formula,  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.

The list of names India added to the database includes Agni, Akash, Bijli, Jal (all these cyclones have occurred since 2004).

By naming a cyclone it becomes easier to track and address all issues related to it than remembering the storm's number or its longitude and latitude. 

Why names of devastating storms are retired?

Names of some devastating storms that have caused widespread damage and deaths are usually retired and are not brought back or reused later, at least for another 10 years, as per the norms. These names are then replaced with new names. The names are retired as a mark of respect to the dead.

A database of names of the cyclonic storms are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization.

From Zee News

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