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Home / India News / After Gaja, Titli and Sandy: How cyclones get their names

After Gaja, Titli and Sandy: How cyclones get their names

The cyclone Gaja means elephant in Sanskrit language. Cyclones are named by various warning centres to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2018, 17:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cyclone Gaja will be the second to hit the coastal area in a month after Cyclone Titli wreaked havoc in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on October 11, killing a total of 70 people.
Cyclone Gaja will be the second to hit the coastal area in a month after Cyclone Titli wreaked havoc in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on October 11, killing a total of 70 people. (AFP)

The cyclone Gaja, which is expected to make landfall in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on November 14, means elephant in Sanskrit language.

Gaja will be the second cyclone to hit the coastal area in a month after Cyclone Titli wreaked havoc in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on October 11, killing a total of 70 people. The severe cyclonic storm, with wind speeds of 175 km per hour, uprooted thousands of electricity and telecommunication poles, devastated coconut and cashew orchards, and flattened standing crops.

Cyclones are named by various warning centres to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public. The names are intended to reduce confusion in the event of concurrent storms in the same basin.

Generally once storms produce sustained wind speeds of more than 61 km/h names are assigned in order from predetermined lists depending on which basin they originate.

In South East Asia, cyclones are named by different countries. Titli was named by Pakistan and Gaja by Sri Lanka..

Here’s all you need to know about cyclones:

How are cyclones named? 

During World War II, tropical cyclones were informally given women’s names by US Army Air Corp and Navy meteorologists (after their girlfriends or wives) who were monitoring and forecasting tropical cyclones over the Pacific.

*From 1950 to 1952, tropical cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean were identified by the phonetic alphabet (Able-Baker-Charlie-etc.), but in 1953 the US Weather Bureau switched to women’s names.

*In 1979, the World Meteorological Organization and the US National Weather Service (NWS) switched to a list of names that also included men’s names.

*The Northeast Pacific basin tropical cyclones were named using women’s names starting in 1959 for storms near Hawaii and in 1960 for the remainder of the Northeast Pacific basin. In 1978, both men’s and women’s names were utilised.

• The Northwest Pacific basin tropical cyclones were given women’s names officially starting in 1945 and men’s names were also included beginning in 1979.

• The Southwest Indian Ocean tropical cyclones were first named during the 1960/1961 season.

• The Australian and South Pacific region (east of 90E, south of the equator) started giving women’s names to the storms in 1964 and both men’s and women’s names in 1974/1975.

• The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are being named since October 2004.

Names reused every six years

• Atlantic and Pacific storm names are reused every six years, but are retired “if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing”, according to forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.

• Hurricane Sandy was the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. It will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018, when the list from 2012 is repeated. Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season that hit the US last year.

Cyclone season

India’s cyclone season runs from April to December, with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and wide damage to crops and property.

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