Do You Know How the Tropical Hurricanes & Cyclonic Storms Named?

Does the word - 'Phailin' or 'Phalin' sounds familiar to you? You must have heard this word a lot many times over all kind of media news broadcasts last & current week. It is the name by which the recent tropical hurricane and cyclonic storm that ravaged the south-eastern and central parts of Indian subcontinent is known to us. The people who got hit by the cyclone will remember 'Phailin' for long enough, but for all the wrong reasons and the hardships they went through due to it.

But, do you know who coined the name 'Phailin' for this cyclonic storm, and why?

Since year 2004, the World Meteorological Organization/Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Panel (WMO/ESCAP Panel) on Tropical Cyclones actually administers these names in the form of a list of shortlisted and selected names contributed by the respective member countries.

The member countries of the cited WMO/ESCAP panel, which was established in the year 1973, are those which geographically lie in a way that get affected by the tropical cyclones and hurricanes generated over the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea areas. They form a region commonly known as
the North Indian Ocean region (45°E – 100°E). The member countries of this panel, viz., Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand (listed in alphabetical order here) have suggested and contributed certain names/ nomenclatures, which have been listed and used in a rotational manner country-wise.

The names suggested and ultimately selected are those that are familiar to the people in respective regions in the respective countries. As such, one particular name that is familiar in one country may or may not actually be inherently known to people of another country, but still the process is followed as a matter of principle and agreement. The primary reason for using area-specific names, and not some scientifically derived number/abbreviation, etc., is that such names are supposed to more or less effortlessly correlate with a common man as he/she/they can remember them easily and the warning system relating to such names could be more comprehensible and understandable by the locals.

Coming back to the current news issue, the term 'Phailin' was coined by Thailand, which means 'sapphire' in Thai language. It was used to term this particular cyclonic storm as it was its turn as per the WMO/ESCAP panel's approved list of names. In fact, it would be Bangladesh's suggested name 'Helen' that would be used the next time any such tropical cyclone is generated in this region as it is next in line in the list. And further to it would be India's suggested name called 'Lehar'; and so on. A total of 8 lists contributed by respective 8 member countries is in place as of now, out of which the last (that is 8th) entry of list number #4 was recently used in the shape of term 'Phailin' that was contributed by Thailand (which is placed at 8th position in the list of countries when listed in alphabetical order).

Few other names that already have been used, or are slated to be used, country-wise being:

India - Agni, Akash, Bijli, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar, Vayu
Bangladesh - Onil, Ogni, Nisha, Giri, Helen, Chapala, Ockhi, Fani
Pakistan - Fanoos, Nargis, Laila, Nilam, Nilofar, Vardah, Titli, Bulbul
The complete tabulated list currently in use by the WMO/ESCAP Panel is furnished hereunder (Note: The names in maroon colour font in this list suggest they have as on date already been used):

Country List 1 List 2 List 3 List 4 List 5 List 6 List 7 List 8
Bangladesh Onil Ogni Nisha Giri Helen Chapala Ockhi Fani
India Agni Akash Bijli Jal Lehar Megh Sagar Vayu
Maldives Hibaru Gonu Aila Keila Madi Roanu Makunu Hikaa
Myanmar Pyarr Yemyin Phyan Thane Nanauk Kyant Daye Kyarr
Oman Baaz Sidr Ward Murjan Hudhud Nada Luban Maha
Pakistan Fanoos Nargis Laila Nilam Nilofar Vardah Titli Bulbul
Sri Lanka Mala Rashmi Bandu Mahasen Priya Asiri Gigum Soba
Thailand Mukda Khai−Muk Phet Phailin Komen Mora Phethai Amphan
Source of this list: Wikipedia | Check out this another article on naming nomenclature

What do you think about this system of naming the cyclonic storms and hurricanes currently in vogue? Do you think it makes sense to name them this way? Let us know about your opinion.

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  1. Never knew these demonic storms are also named like we humans are. Like always, good info by the way.


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