As Gujarat braces for Cyclone Vayu, a look at how and why it is named

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New Delhi | Published: June 12, 2019 2:18:41 PM

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While the northern states grapple with the heatwave, the western state of Gujarat is bracing for Cyclone Vayu. The storm has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and is expected to hit the Gujarat coast on June 13. The coastal areas of neighbouring Maharashtra including Mumbai also experienced the winds a day ahead of the landfall.

About 2.91 lakh people living in and around 400 villages of Gujarat’s Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Devbhoomi-Dwarka, Porbandar, Rajkot, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath are being evacuated in a massive exercise by the state government along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) assisting the local administration in the process.

The cyclone which is around 340 km south of Gujarat’s Veraval coast been named by India as “Vayu”. Vayu means wind in Hindi.

How did Vayu get its name and how are cyclones usually named?
The previous cyclone to come out of the Bay of Bengal was named Fani which caused a loss of an estimated Rs 9,336.26 crore in Odisha. Prior to that, there were cyclones Ockhi in 2017 and Titli and Gaja last year.

Every Tropical Cyclone basin across the world has a list of names that is rotational. For the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, the naming system of cyclones was agreed upon by eight member countries of a group called WMO/ESCAP which was implemented in 2004. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) had devised the nomenclature of the cyclones.

These countries proposed eight names which are then arranged in an 8×8 table. The first cyclone, when the list was adopted was given the name in the first row of the first column — Onil, given by Bangladesh. And hence, cyclones are now being named in sequence, column-wise, with each cyclone given the name immediately below that of the last cyclone.

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As soon as the bottom of the column is reached, the sequence of the names then shifts to the top of the next column. The first eight columns have been used so far with Fani (submitted by Bangladesh) being the last one. The word Fani means snake. And this is how this cyclone is named Vayu. The next cyclone will be named as Cyclone Amphan, whenever it comes.

Last year’s Cyclone Titli, which lashed Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, was proposed by Pakistan. Cyclone Ockhi in 2017, that hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala was given by Thailand In 2017.

After the 64 names are used up, the eight countries submit new names. It is to be noted that for cyclones emerging from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, these names are not rotated every few years, as explained by the India Meteorological Department’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) for Tropical Cyclones over the Northern Indian System.

Why are cyclones named?
As per World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the primary intention for naming a cyclone is to help people keep track of the storm in a region.

This also aids relevant authorities to identify storms and also keep a track of them rather than the technical information like longitude and latitude which could be cumbersome.

With Cyclone Vayu to hit Gujarat on June 13, the Western state is evacuating nearly three lakh people from its 10 districts with the The Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and the Border Security Force on high alert.

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