Suryakant Jena

It's October and as often it's cyclone time in Odisha. Yes, with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) strongly confirming the probability of the formation of a cyclone over the Bay of Bengal after October 22, the scare of another tropical storm looms large over Odisha and in general the eastern India coast.

Notably, various weather models all around the globe indicate formation of a cyclone with different paths of movement of the system. While some suggest that the storm may hit the landmass between the coast of Odisha and that of Andhra, experts hint that it may follow the path of Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani that barrelled through Odisha coast causing massive destruction in 2019.

However, the IMD has not cleared the air surrounding the track and intensity of the probable cyclone. Despite this ambiguity, it is worthwhile to mention here that if the system intensifies into a cyclone, it will be named as per the long-followed practice of naming of tropical cyclones.

How are cyclones named?

Disasters like cyclones have been named all over the world to make people remember them easily and better representation in the history. In the beginning, cyclones were named arbitrarily but it led to confusions and so began the systematic naming of the tropical cyclones. =

At present, cyclones that form in any ocean basin around the world are named by one of the respective six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) and five Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs), including the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

IMD names the cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. It provides tropical cyclone and storm surge advisories to 13 member countries Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (ESCAP) Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) at its 27th session held in 2000 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman agreed in principle 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 the north Indian Ocean commenced from September 2004. 

All countries contribute a set of names that are assigned sequentially on the basis of the first alphabet of the member country. As per rules, the name is neutral to gender, politics, religious faiths and cultures. Once a name is used, it is not repeated again. 

In 2020, a new list was released with 169 names, including 13 names each from 13 countries. Some of the names given by India include Gati (speed), Megh (cloud), Akash (sky).

The next cyclone and its name

The last cyclone called Asani which hit Andhra Pradesh in May earlier this year was named by Sri Lanka. The next cyclone which is predicted to form over Bay of Bengal will be called Sitrang, a name given by Thailand. It is a Thai surname.

Refer this list shared by IMD for names of upcoming cyclone systems.