Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Phailin is a tropical cyclone in October 2013 that has affected Thailand, Myanmar and the Indian states of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
The system was first noted as a tropical depression on October 4, 2013 within the Gulf of Thailand, to the west of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
The system was subsequently named Phailin (Thai meaning “sapphire”) on October 9, after it had developed into a cyclonic storm and passed over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into the Bay of Bengal.
Why are tropical cyclones named?
• 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.
• 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.
• These newly selected names have two major differences from the rest of the world’s tropical cyclone name rosters. One, the names by and large are not personal names. There are a few men’s and women’s names, but the majority are names of flowers, animals, birds, trees, or even foods, etc, while some are descriptive adjectives. Secondly, the names are not allotted in alphabetical order, but are arranged by contributing nation with the countries being alphabetised.
• The Southwest Indian Ocean tropical cyclones were first named during the 1960/1961 season.
• The Australian and South Pacific region (east of 90E, south of the equator) started giving women’s names to the storms in 1964 and both men’s and women’s names in 1974/1975.
• The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are being named since October 2004.
Names reused every six years
• Atlantic and Pacific storm names are reused every six years, but are retired “if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing,” according to forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.
• Hurricane Sandy was the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. It will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018, when the list from 2012 is repeated. Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season that hit the US last year.