How are cyclones named?

DO you know how meteorologists name cyclones?

“The practise of naming storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms,” according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) website.

“In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje’s hurricane. Then the mid-1900s saw the start of the practise of using feminine names for storms.”

As studies into these storms continued, meteorologists began classifying storms alphabetically, with the first storm of the season having a name starting with A.

“Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Centre. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the WMO. The original name lists featured only women’s names. In 1979, men’s names were introduced and they alternate with the women’s names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2008 list will be used again in 2014.

The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO tropical cyclone committees (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Infamous storm names such as Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples of this.”

The list of storm names in rotation for the 2016/17 cyclone season in the southwest Indian Ocean region, as per the WMO website, are Abela, Bransby, Carlos, Dineo, Enawo, Fernando, Gabekile, Herold, Irondro, Jeruto, Kundai, Lisebo, Michel, Nousra, Olivier, Pokera, Quincy, Rebaone, Salama, Tristan, Ursula, Violet, Wilson, Xila, Yekela and Zaina.

Click here to visit the WMO website to view storm names for future seasons and other regions.

 

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  AUTHOR
Erin Hanekom
Journalist

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