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The naming of storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages as names are far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms.
POLOKWANE – We’ve had Tropical Cyclones Dineo, Desmond, Idai and now Kenneth but how are these storms named?
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), there is a rotating list of names which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin. If a cyclone is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one.
The practice of naming storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms. Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.
Meteorologists decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alphabetically, therefore, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year.
The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees where the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.