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Why cyclone Phailin is named so

'Phailin' is the Thai word for sapphire. The next cyclone in north Indian Ocean will be called 'Helen'.


Updated:October 11, 2013, 3:25 PM IST
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Why cyclone Phailin is named so
'Phailin' is the Thai word for sapphire. The next cyclone in north Indian Ocean will be called 'Helen'.

The cyclone that is headed towards the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast along the Bay of Bengal is named 'Phalin'. Phailin is the Thai word for sapphire and according to the followed procedure of naming tropical cyclones over north Indian Ocean it was turn of a name suggested by Thailand in the list of assigned names. The next cyclone in the region will be called Helen, a name from the list of cyclone names given by Bangladesh.

The practice of naming 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 the numbers and technical terms. Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker.

In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. Then the mid-1900's saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms. In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alphabetically. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. Before the end of 1900's, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere. Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

It is important to note that tropical cyclones /hurricanes are named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence. The tropical cyclone/hurricane names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region. Obviously, the main purpose of naming a tropical cyclone/hurricane is basically for people easily to understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane in a region, thus to facilitate tropical cyclone/hurricane disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction.

In general, tropical cyclones are named according to the rules at a regional level. The World Meteorological Organization/Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Panel (WMO/ESCAP Panel) on Tropical Cyclones at its twenty-seventh Session held in 2000 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman agreed in principal to assign names to the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. After long deliberations among the member countries, the naming of the tropical cyclones over north Indian Ocean commenced from September 2004.

List of cyclone names in north Indian Ocean (names that have been already used from the list are highlighted in bold)

Onil (Bangladesh)Agni (India)Hibaru (Maldives)Pyarr (Myanmar)Baaz (Oman)Fanoos (Pakistan)Mala (Sri Lanka)Mukda (Thailand)Ogni (Bangladesh)Akash (India)Gonu (Maldives)Yemyin (Myanmar)Sidr (Oman)Nargis (Pakistan)Rashmi (Sri Lanka)Khai Muk (Thailand)Nisha (Bangladesh)Bijli (India)Aila (Maldives)Phyan (Myanmar)Ward (Oman)Laila (Pakistan)Bandu (Sri Lanka)Phet (Thailand)Giri (Bangladesh)Jal (India)Keila (Maldives)Thane (Myanmar)Murjan (Oman)Nilam (Pakistan)Mahasen (Sri Lanka)Phailin (Thailand)Helen (Bangladesh)Lehar (India)Madi (Maldives)Nanauk (Myanmar)Hudhud (Oman)Nilofar (Pakistan)Priya (Sri Lanka)Komen (Thailand)Chapala (Bangladesh)Megh (India)Roanu (Maldives)Kyant (Myanmar)Nada (Oman)Vardah (Pakistan)Asiri (Sri Lanka)Mora (Thailand)Ockhi (Bangladesh)Sagar (India)Mekunu (Maldives)Daye (Myanmar)Luban (Oman)Titli (Pakistan)Gigum (Sri Lanka)Phethai (Thailand)Fani (Bangladesh)Vayu (India)Hikaa (Maldives)Kyarr (Myanmar)Maha (Oman)Bulbul (Pakistan)Soba (Sri Lanka)Amphan (Thailand)

The Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) tropical cyclones New Delhi, gives a tropical cyclone an identification name from the above name list. The identification system covers both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. These lists are used sequentially, and they are not rotated every few years as are the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific lists.

If someone wants to suggest the name of a cyclone to be included in the list, the proposed name must meet some fundamental criteria. The name should be short and readily understood when broadcast. Further the names must not be culturally sensitive and not convey some unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning. A storm causes so much death and destruction that its name is considered for retirement and hence is not used repeatedly. The suggested name pertaining to India may be communicated to Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department, Mausam Bhawan, Lodi Road, New Delhi-110003 for consideration.

(Source: IMD)

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