After Aila, next cyclone to hit Asia will be called Phyan

May 26th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The name Aila for the fierce cyclone that battered Bangladesh and coastal West Bengal was given by Maldives. The next cyclone to hit countries in the north Indian Ocean region will be called Phyan - a name given by Myanmar.
A cyclone that hit India and its neighbourhood between April 14 to 17 this year was called ‘Bijli’, given by India.

Aila has left 27 dead and over 400,000 affected in West Bengal so far.

Cyclones derive their names through a systematic procedure laid out by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“It’s better to give an identity to the cyclones as the main purpose of naming a cyclone is basically for people to easily understand and remember it in a region and to facilitate tropical cyclone disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction,” D. Chakrabarthi, additional director general India Meteorological Department (IMD), told IANS.

Met officials in fact have decided the names of cyclones till 2009-end.

Eight north Indian Ocean countries - Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand - have prepared a list of 64 names. When a hurricane hits these countries, the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC), housed in the IMD office in New Delhi picks up the name next on the list. The RSMC has been set up in Delhi by the WMO for forecasting tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

“It is important to note that tropical cyclones are not named after any particular person, or with any alphabetical sequence preference. The names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region,” said Chakrabarthi.

Since 2004, the eight countries have faced 19 cyclones. The countries take turns in naming the cyclones. The last six were: Sidr (named by Oman), Nargis (Pakistan), Rashmi (Sri Lanka), Khai-Muk (Thailand), Nisha (Bangladesh) and Bijli (India).

“All these countries meet once in two years and review the progress of cyclones and how many cyclones there were. Every country reports its assessment of the cyclones and then they arrive at a mutual plan of action, which includes creation of a database for the names to be given to tropical cyclones,” M. Mohapatra, director Cyclone Division IMD, told IANS.

“We have around 40 names right now. Once a name is used it cannot be used again for another cyclone,” said Mohapatra.

The practice of naming cyclones began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.

The trend started in the 19th century in Australia where cyclones were named after corrupt politicians. It soon caught on in other countries, and met officials in some countries began naming cyclones after their former girlfriends or divorced wives.

In the 1970s, the WMO in Geneva asked some countries around the Pacific Ocean to prepare a list of names and keep it ready.

However, in the north Indian Ocean countries the naming of cyclones began in September 2004 following a meeting of the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones in 2000.

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