Friday, November 13, 2009

Naming Cyclones

All of us remember the devastation hurricane Katrina caused when it hit New Orleans. But for me, apart from that, I was wondering about its name 'Katrina" . I could only relate it to Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif; and thus could not help but wonder if hurricane Katrina was as glamorous as Katrina Kaif; this is on a lighter note.

My inquisitive mind started googling about cyclone names; as to how they get their names; who maintains them and such. I guess there has been an article on them recently on some newspapers due to cyclone Phyan. Yet, I share some information from what I read sometime back.

To begin with; hurricane, cyclone, typhoon are all the same thing. The only difference is where they occur. Hurricanes are found in West Atlantic ocean,; cyclones in tropical ocean; except for Southeast Pacific and South Atlantic; whereas typhoons are found in West Pacific ocean.

Technically, all hurricanes can be cyclones; but not all cyclones are hurricanes. If the wind speed is more than 74 miles/hour, they are hurricanes; else they are just tropical storms or cyclones.

Hurricanes and cyclones are named. The practice started during the 1940s in order to quickly identify the storms and these names helped in transmitting warning messages and propagating the weather forecasts and other related information across several weather stations and to general public across the world.

The first use of proper name was by an Australian forecaster during early 20th century. He named the cyclones after political figures he disliked. During World War 2, tropical cyclones were given woman's names by US Army and Navy meteorologists; after their girlfriend or wives. They had noble intentions people; naming a cyclone is in no way related to the behavior of both the entities involved :-P

A variety of naming systems have been used; like names drawn from a phonetic alphabet system. But the names are not according to any preference; the names selected are those that are familiar with the region. Its obvious as the main purpose of using the name is to create awareness among people and to prepare for disasters.

Cyclones are named in a systematic procedure; and this lies with international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. There are 10 cyclone regions; Phyan was part of Northern Indian Ocean region.
There are eight northern Indian ocean countries; which have prepared a list of 64 names. These countries are Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand

The next cyclone to hit the north Indian ocean region will be named Ward, a name given by Oman; and the next one would be Laila; given by Pakistan. These countries take turns in naming the cyclones. The names are used sequentially and once only.

The previous eight were

Sidr named by Oman
Nargis - named by Pakistan
Abe - nambed by Sri Lanka
Khai Muk - named by Thai Land
Nisha - named by Bangaldesh
Bijli - named by India
Aila - named by Maldives
Phyan - named by Myanmar

The next eight would be

Ward - named by Oman
Laila - named by Pakistan
Bandu - named by Sri Lanka
Phet - named by Thailand
Giri - named by Bangladesh
Jal - named by India
Keila - named by Maldives
Thane - named by Myanmar

Generally, the names have to be concise and easy to be used; understood well enough and must not be culturally sensitive; it must not be inflammatory and definitely no room for misunderstanding.

The Atlantic Region cyclones are generally named after male and female names. It has a six year supply of names with 21 names each year. Why 21? Because letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used; as its tough to find 3 male and 3 female names with these letters. Few names are retired; means they are not used again; if it has caused huge destruction to life and property; like hurricane Katrina; which is replaced by a new name hurricane Katia; which would arrive in 2011. Such a proposal is generally made by the country which was worse affected; as a mark of respect for the victims.

And what happens if the cyclone crosses from one region to another? The names are simply retained.

To get the list of all the names from all the regions - go here


  1. you are en'cyclone'pedia of the cyclones now...:P

    jokes apart, I loved reading this post of informative...I didn't know any of these...I feel so disappointed, i lack so much of knowledge..hats off to u girl for coming up with this must have taken you so long to compile all the info..

    btw, naming the cyclone after their girlfriends and wives? hmm, such a sadistic thing to do na..but well the one who suffers only knows the facts :P

    nice post :))

  2. Hi!

    Interesting post. There was a Wikipedia article, too on naming of cyclones, but never had the courage to go through it! For developing that courage alone, congratulations!

    I hope hurricane Hillary didn't have anything to do with this!

    And my geography is so bad, that even after reading your entire article I'm not sure if a cyclone on the East coast of America would be called a typhoon or a hurricane. LOL.

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. you are a marked lady. thackrey is looking for

  4. oh nice encyclopedia only yu are!! :D ..74 miles and above na cyclone ah..didnt know this!! nandri

  5. wow...frm encyclopedia u hve b'cme insigniopedia. this was too good...never knew so much about hurricanes and cyclones. There's a joke that we are sharing now-a-days...

    breaking news: raj thackrey did not allow phyan to enter mumbai b'coz the name was not in marathi...

    P.S: hope i am not jailed for such a comment :)

  6. And I thought it was just alphbetically named from A to Z, alternating male n female names every year, in that order!!!

    Cyclone galore.


  7. Very nice and informative post. Sri Lanka has named a cyclore Bandu? Are you sure Sri Lanka or you did not make a spelling or typing mistake?

  8. 'Hurricanes are found in West Atlantic ocean,; cyclones in tropical ocean; except for Southeast Pacific and South Atlantic; whereas typhoons are found in West Pacific ocean.'

    so, nerd or google?:P

  9. 'Hurricanes are found in West Atlantic ocean,; cyclones in tropical ocean; except for Southeast Pacific and South Atlantic; whereas typhoons are found in West Pacific ocean.'

    so, nerd or google?:P

  10. Hi Neha,

    Thank you. en'cyclone'pedia...hahahaha..thats so nice. I dont know if it makes sense to know all these information. Anyways, I keep reading and digging for such information :-D

    And glad you liked it. Oh yes, they used to name the cyclones after their girlfriends and wives; that's only because they missed them :-)

  11. Hi Ketan,

    Thanks. Yes, there are lot of information on the net. I read them on such websites. Cyclone on the east coast of America is still called 'Hurricane'. And these storms off Atlantic and Pacific are most times hurricanes; stronger than cyclone.

  12. Hi soin,

    Is that so? I better go into hiding!!

  13. Hi Hary,

    No no..above 74 miles/hour are hurricanes; below them, the storms are cyclones

  14. Hi Gayathri,

    Thanks for the name. :-D Glad you liked it.
    Lol!!! thats a nice joke. Who knows? The cyclone was scared enough to take panga with the MNS. :-D

  15. Hi Ashes,

    Welcome to b Log :-)
    Oh yeah, they have had different naming systems. And it differs in each regions too.

  16. Hi SG,

    Yes, its Bandu. I did not make any spelling mistake; and how I wish Sri Lanka had made a mistake. But alas!! No.
    Its Bandu

  17. Hi kish,

    I read about them on the net. Of course by googling for cyclone names and why they are named. But I am nerd enough to remember these details :-)

  18. call a disaster like a cyclone your wife because you miss her? wah...I am impressed :P

  19. Hehehehehehe :-P Thats why I mentioned they had 'noble' intentions. :-P

  20. wow nice research... i was totally unaware about this.... thanks!!

  21. Hi Tanmaya,

    Thank you. Hope you liked it :-)

  22. Damn! Is this thing for real?
    Never knew this. Great info.
    And naming the cyclones after girl friends? Good thinking there. he he heee.. :P
    Laila, Jal, Keila, Thane,...??? Weird and interesting. :-)

  23. wow, talk of information!!
    never quite knew why the world called it by those names.. now i know..

  24. wow, talk of information!!
    never quite knew why the world called it by those names.. now i know..

  25. Hi Karthik,

    Yes, its all for real. They are facts. :-) Glad you enjoyed reading them.

    Oye...those people missed their girlfriends and wives. Noble intentions :-D

  26. Hi JD,

    Glad you got to know few things :-)

  27. informative mam.. bijli was a good name.. but jal doesnt seem to give the effect..

  28. Oh yeah you liked Bijli??
    Hmm, Jal doesnt give the effect but its easy to use and remember. Thats what they see while choosing a name.


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