Natural Disasters

IMD presents new, neutral names for future cyclones in north Indian Ocean

The new names were contributed by 13 member countries of the WMO/ESCAP panel on tropical cyclones   

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Wednesday 29 April 2020
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) released a list of 169 new names for tropical cyclones in the north Indian Ocean region. The list was also issued by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The new names were contributed by 13 member countries of the WMO/ESCAP panel on tropical cyclones (PTC).

The countries that contributed 13 names each were: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The names contributed by India included those that came from the general public as well, said a press release by IMD. It, however, did not disclose the names.

Naming of tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons is done for identification, awareness and removing confusion in case there were two cyclones in the same region. Different names help disseminate warnings easily and efficiently, according to the IMD.

All but one name, Amphan, in the older list of cyclone names has been used till date.

It was in 2004 that countries started using cyclone names from the last list. The list was formulated with contributions from eight member countries.

All 13 countries decided on the need for a new list during the WMO/ESCAP PTC 45th session held at Muscat, Oman in September, 2018.

In the same session, the panel also nominated Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, now the director-general of IMD, to act as rapporteur to coordinate among the member countries and finalise the list of names.

IMD is the also one of WMO’s regional specialised meteorological centres (RSMC) and a nodal agency for the WMO. India presented the rapporteur’s report during the 46th Session of WMO/ESCAP PTC held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar from September 9-13, 2019.

The member countries finally arrived at a consensus in April 2020. The panel lists the following criteria for the consideration of cyclone names: 

  • The proposed name should be neutral to (a) politics and political figures (b) religious beliefs, (c) cultures and (d) gender
  • Name should be chosen in such a way that it does not hurt the sentiments of any group of population around the world
  • It should not be very rude and cruel in nature
  • It should be short with a maximum length of eight letters and easy to pronounce
  • The proposed name should be provided along with its pronunciation and voice over
  • The panel reserves the right to reject any name, if any of the criteria above is not satisfied
  • The finalised names may also be reviewed during the course of time of implementation with the approval of PTC in its annual session, in case any reasonable objection is raised by any member
  • The names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used it will cease to be used again. Thus, the name should be new

WMO’s RSMC in New Delhi will carry out the implementation of the naming process whenever a tropical storm in the north Indian Ocean region surpasses a wind speed of 62 km/hr.

The name of the tropical cyclone will not be changed if it crosses over from the South China Sea (where they are named as typhoons) into the Bay of Bengal.

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