New Delhi, Nov 30: Cyclonic storm Ockhi hit parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Thursday. As per latest information, it is approaching the Lakshadweep archipelago which might flood the islands. IMD issued safety warnings and the disaster management agencies are working at full swing to ensure security of lives.
However, who is responsible for naming the cyclones. Hurricane named Katrina which hit the United States in 2005 is considered as one of the deadliest tropical cyclone. But then why Katrina? Or for that matter why name a cyclone Ockhi? Is it a random name chosen by a group of people? Or is there something scientific behind the procedure? Well, a little of both, lets understand the history behind naming tropical cyclones firstly.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the process of naming tropical cyclones began years ago in a bid to help in quick identification of storms while issuing warnings. This is reportedly because names are presumed to be easier to remember than numbers or technical terms. The WMO generally maintains rotating lists of names which are deemed appropriate for Tropical Cyclone basins. However, in case a cyclone turns deadly or costly, like Katrina, the name is retired and is replaced by another name.
Although in the earlier times, in the mid 1900’s feminine names were denoted to such tropical cyclones, from 1979, male names were also introduced. Meteorologists started using names from an already decided list which was arranged alphabetically and were used throughout the year.
From 1953 onward Atlantic tropical storms started to be named from a list originally prepared by the National Hurricane Center. These names are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the WMO.
The name Ockhi was given by Bangladesh in the list of names for Tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean. The contributors to the list are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Ockhi featured in the seventh list of names by the contributors. The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC), New Delhi gives any tropical cyclone an identification name from these lists. The identification system covers both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
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These names for tropical cyclones do not denote any particular person, or has any preference in alphabetical sequence. Instead names for cyclones or hurricanes are those names which are familiar to the people in each region, as the primary purpose of naming the cyclone is to make it easier to remember and understand and help in facilitating risk awareness and management of the magnitude of disaster.