Here’s How Tropical Storm Systems Across The World Are Given Specific Names!


Cyclone “Vardah” has turned into a tropical storm in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh and northern part of Tamil Nadu. More than 9,000 people were evacuated to safety in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh while educational institutions were shut down as the “very severe” cyclonic storm whipped up waves as high as 20 feet. Now each of the cyclones has a dedicated name. Have you ever wondered why cyclones are named?

Cyclones were usually not 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. Incidentally, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones are all the same, just different names for tropical storms in different parts of the world; Hurricane in the Atlantic, Typhoon in the Pacific and Cyclone in the Indian Ocean. Atlantic storms had been given names for hundreds of years. Initially, people living in the Caribbean Islands would name the storms after the saint of the day from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for the day on which the hurricane/cyclone occurred.

The tradition continued till World War II, when forecasters and meteorologists started using female names to identify the storms. In 1953, the US weather service 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. Subsequent protests by women’s liberation bodies in the 60s and 70s helped change the naming procedure for the storms to include male names in 1978.

The year’s first tropical storm was given the name beginning with the letter “A”, the second with the letter “B” and so on through the alphabet. In even-numbered years, odd-numbered storms got men’s names and in odd-numbered years, odd-numbered storms got women’s names.

They are named by various warning centers to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings. The names are thought to reduce confusion in the event of concurrent storms in the same basin

For the Indian Ocean region, deliberations for naming cyclones began in 2000 and a formula was agreed upon 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

The name of the current cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’, which means ‘red rose’, had been given by Pakistan. The last cyclone that hit Chennai was ‘Nada’, a name suggested by Oman. The next time a cyclone comes along it will be called “Maarutha”, named by Sri Lanka.


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