Why are tropical cyclones named?

Phailin, the cyclone threatening Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast, was named by Thailand. Phailin, which means sapphire in Thai, is the last of the first set of 32 names suggested by Asian countries since 2004. The previous cyclone to hit the Indian sub-continent was Mahasen, which made landfall in Bangladesh on May 17, 2013. Cyclone Mahasen was named by Sri Lanka after a King. Some Buddhists objected to it, saying that it was derogatory to the Sri Lankan King.

The next cyclone hitting the Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal will be named Helen. This name has been suggested by Bangladesh.

Tropical cyclones are named to provide easy communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings.

The first use of a proper name for a tropical cyclone was by an Australian forecaster early in the 20th century. He gave tropical cyclone names after political figures he disliked.

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.

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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. Beginning on 1 January 2000, tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific basin are being named from a new and very different list of names.

If the Indian public wants to suggest a name to be included in the list, the proposed name must meet some fundamental criteria. The name should be short and readily understood when broadcast. Further, the names must not be culturally sensitive and should not convey some unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning.