Curiosity check! How Amphan got its unique identity and name

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At the first hint of overcast skies on Tuesday, Odisha and West Bengal readies itself to face the wrath of mother nature. Tropical cyclones are nothing new to coastal states in India. One of these kinds, ‘Fani’ claimed 65 lives, around the same time last year.

Ever wondered why cyclones are not referred to with random figures, its speed or the name of the place it has hit? Each tropical cyclone has a name that has been decided years before it was born. just like human names, they too bear relevance with its nature. As the National Disaster Management team prepares its rescue and relief teams, here’s how the monster ‘Amphan’ got its name.


Name game of storm monsters


If the speed of a cyclone is more than 34 nautical miles per hour then it becomes necessary to give it a special name.
World Meteorological Weather Organization and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific started the task of preparing names for impending cyclonic storms with suggestions from its member countries since 2000.


‘Amphan’, pronounced as “Um-pun”, means sky. The name was given by Thailand in 2004, years ago.


Criteria for naming tropical cyclones


Cyclonic storms rising in the North Indian Ocean are named by the Indian Meteorological Department. According to PIB the names are selected keeping the following criteria in mind


The name should be gender, politics, religion and culture neutral

Should not be offensive, or hurt any one’s sentiments
Should be short, easy to pronounce
Maximum length should be eight letters


The greater purpose of naming cyclones


The practice of naming tropical cyclones is done to facilitate the effective communication of forecasts and storm-related hazards to the general public and to reduce confusion if more than one cyclone happens at the same time. Countries with the unique name of the storm can recognize the threat and take necessary precautionary measures to mitigate the damage.


Since ‘Amphan’ is the last name on the original list established in 2004, IMD will move to a new list of names suggested by member countries. Bangladesh gets to name the first cyclone after Amphan which will be Nisarga, following with India that suggested ‘Gati’ and then Iran with ‘Nivar’

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