Tropical cyclones have officially been named since 1945.
Initially, the cyclones were named after the place they did the most damage (such as the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935).
This continued till the end of World War II. Later, the cyclones were named after women such as Alice, Barbara, Carol, Dolly, etc.
However by the beginning of 1980, both men and women’s names were used to identity these cyclones.
The process of naming involves several countries in the region and is done under the aegis of the World Metrological Organisation.
Every region forms a committee of nations which are more cyclone prone and comes up with list of names which is then examined by the governing body setup by the nations.
For the Indian Ocean region, the host nations constitute of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand and the governing body is Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre, New Delhi.
Each nation prepares a list of ten names which they think is suitable to be assigned to a cyclone. Out of these, the governing body, i.e. RSMC, selects eight names from each country and accordingly prepares eight lists which consist of the names approved by the governing body.
Why to name a storm?
For ease of understanding and better communication.
Metrological departments have multiple cyclones to track hence identifying them with latitude and longitude or speed etc. will be confusing.
It becomes easier to communicate with the general public based on name instead of numerical attributes.
Some Interesting Facts
Some of the names get retired also and are not used again. Usually the names of the severe cyclones claiming lives are declared retired. These names are replaced with the new names, usually with a little tweak e.g. Mark is replaced by Marc.
Hurricane, Typhoon, Cyclone are different names for the tropical storms in different parts of the world.
Hurricane – Atlantic
Typhoon – Pacific
Cyclone – Indian Ocean