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Who Names Cyclones?

Cyclones are powerful swirling winds that rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere around an epicentre of low atmospheric pressure.

It is interesting to note that cyclones can be named too, just like other things in the world! 

Let’s find out how these names are kept!

Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) and Regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs) track cyclone developments and name cyclones. IMD’s RSMCs headquartered in Delhi is among them. 13 countries fall in its ambit. The countries are Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Each of these countries is allowed to suggest names, the cycle of proposing names for cyclones goes in alphabetical order. RSMC New Delhi then chooses a name based on the recommended list.

Each country gets a chance to name the cyclone one after the other.

Bangladesh suggested ‘Onil’ the first in the list in 2004. Thailand named cyclone ‘Phethai’ (originated in 2018).

64 names have been suggested by these thirteen countries so far, out of which 57 names have been utilized.

The names also have individual meanings – recent cyclone Tauktae suggested by Myanmar means gecko.


Even an ordinary person can suggest a name for a cyclone; the proposed name must fulfil some of the basic norms. The name has to be communicated to the Director-General of the IMD (India Meteorological Department).

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