After ‘Phyan’ and ‘Ward’, ‘Laila’ will take the place of Aila. But nobody knows when. It’s yet to be born (read: form).
Laila today is only a name in the list of tropical cyclones, which will occur two storms after Aila.
The practice of naming tropical cyclones began years ago to identify storms and warn against them. Till the mid-1990s, since storms were named arbitrarily, they were feminine.
Later, meteorologists — for the sake of discipline, maybe — started following the alphabetical order. Now, the name of the first storm of the year — even if feminine — starts with ‘A’.
For the past several years, a panel comprising the World Meteorological Organisation, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the Panel on Tropical Cyclones has been maintaining a long list of names for cyclones.
It agreed at a meeting in 2000 in Muscat on naming tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
Naming of tropical cyclones over the northern part of the Indian Ocean began from September 2004.
The names the countries in the panel suggest are sequenced in such a way that each country gets a chance to have its suggested name used.
Prior to Aila, which means dolphin, suggested by the Maldives, there was ‘Bijli’ of India. Before that, there was ‘Nisha’ from Bangladesh.
The one after Aila will be Myanmar’s Phyan, followed by Oman’s Ward. Then will come Laila, proposed by Pakistan. Sri Lanka’s ‘Bandu’ and Thailand’s ‘Phet’ will follow Laila.
Pakistan has had Fanoos and Nargis and proposed Nilofar, Titli and Bulbul for the unseen and unknown devastators.
Ajit Tyagi, Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department, said: “You (the public) can also suggest names for cyclones, which we will recommend to the Pacific Panel on Tropical Cyclones.”