The Mystery Behind Naming Cyclones, Solved!

naming cyclones

India has witnessed two major cyclones within two weeks. If you are one of the curious soles you might have wondered, why these deadly cyclones were given such weird names. We had the same thought, hence decided to do some digging to find out the truth about naming Cyclones.

The World Meteorological Department has two basic guidelines for naming Cyclones and Hurricane, which are:

  • It shouldn’t be named after a person
  • It must adhere to the rules at the regional level

These guidelines point out that different countries can have different norms for naming Cyclones. Let’s discuss the naming process in the prospect of our country.

India is a part of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) which includes 13 nations. Each one of this South Asian nation is expected to provide a list of 13 suggestions for the cyclones expected to originate in the Indian Ocean. All the suggestions are compiled in a list of 169 names for any future cyclone.

One thing to note is that countries under the ESCAP can’t randomly suggest names and need to adhere to certain rules set up by the organisation.

  • The names shouldn’t hurt the sentiment of any population across the globe.
  • They must be neutral in all respects.
  • They must not be cruel or rude in nature.
  • The maximum length for the same is eight letters.
  • They must be easy to pronounce and short.
  • They must not be copied from cyclones already originated in the Indian ocean.

These names are arranged in a tabular form and one of used for future cyclones in order. A new list comes into order only when all the names from the previous list are exhausted. In May 2020, the last name on the list that was made in 2004 was used to name Bay of Bengal CycloneAmphan“. “Nisagra” that immediately followed it was the first name in the new list.

In India, the Indian Meteorological Department forms a committee to select the final thirteen names. But where do they get suggestions to select from?

Through General Public Suggestions!

Yes, you can suggest a name for a cyclone to be included in the next list.

If you plan to send a name for approval just make sure it adheres to the guidelines mentioned above. You can send your suggestions to the IMD on the following address.

The Director-General of Meteorology,
India Meteorological Department,
Mausam Bhawan, Lodi Road,
New Delhi-110003

In conclusion, the weird names you have pondered over all that time were just suggestions from normal citizens like you and me. Surprising, right?

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