Tropical cyclone naming
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Tropical cyclones have officially been named since 1945 and are named for a variety of reasons, which include to facilitate communications between forecasters and the public when forecasts, watches, and warnings are issued. Names also reduce confusion about what storm is being described, as more than one can occur in the same region at the same time. The official practice of naming tropical cyclones started in 1945 within the Western Pacific and was gradually extended out until 2004, when the Indian Meteorological Department started to name cyclonic storms within the North Indian ocean. Names were first given to storms by Australian meteorologist Clement Wragge from 1887, Before the official practice of naming of tropical cyclones began, significant tropical cyclones were named after annoying politicians, mythological creatures, saints and place names. Names are drawn in order from predetermined lists (see Lists of tropical cyclone names) and are usually assigned to tropical cyclones with one-, three-, or ten-minute sustained wind speeds of more than 65 km/h (40 mph) depending on which area it originates. However, standards vary from basin to basin with some tropical depressions named in the Western Pacific, while within the Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclones have to have a significant amount of gale-force winds occurring around the center before they are named.
- 1 The formal start of naming
- 2 1950s
- 3 History
- 4 Tropical cyclone renaming
- 5 Retirement
- 6 Other forms of naming
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The formal start of naming
The practice of using names to name tropical cyclones goes back many years, with systems named after places or things they hit before the formal start of naming. The system currently used provides positive identification of severe weather systems in a brief form, that is readily understood and recognized by the public. The risk of confusion between cyclones occurring at the same time is minimised and the name also provides a useful reference point for news stories. The credit for the first usage of personal names for weather systems, is generally given to the Queensland Government Meteorologist Clement Wragge, who named systems between 1887-1907. Wragge used names drawn from the letters of the Greek alphabet, Greek and Roman mythology and female names, to describe weather systems over Australia, New Zealand and the Antarctic. After the new Australian government had failed to create a federal weather bureau and appoint him director, Wragge started naming cyclones after political figures. This system of naming weather systems subsequently fell into disuse for several years after Wragge retired, until it was revived in the latter part of the Second World War. Despite falling into disuse the naming scheme was occasionally mentioned in the press, with an editorial published in the Launceston Examiner newspaper on October 5, 1935 that called for the return of the naming scheme. Wragge's naming was also mentioned within Sir Napier Shaw’s “Manual of Meteorology” which likened it to a "child naming waves". After reading about Shaw's account of Wragge, George Stewart was inspired to write a novel "Storm", about a storm affecting California which was named Maria. The book was widely read after it was published in 1941 by Random House, especially by United States Army Air Corps and United States Navy (USN) meteorologists during World War II.
It is commonly believed that the publication of "Storm" influenced United States Army Air Forces forecasters (USAAF) at the Saipan weather center who started to informally name typhoons during 1944. During the next year this weather center was moved to Guam, while after the Allies had started to liberate the Philippines, the USAAF and the USN established new weather centers at Fort McKinley near Manila in the Philippines to facilitate forecasting for Philippine operations. During that season the responsibility for detecting and forecasting typhoons was divided between the centers with Guam using names that started with the letters A — M, while the Philippines used names that started with the letters N — Z. During 1946, the United States Weather Bureau (USWB) was asked to start naming tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin using Female names, however, this request was rejected as it was felt that the system was "not appropriate" to use while warning the United States public. In 1947 the Air Force Hurricane Office in Miami started using the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet to name significant tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic Ocean. These names were used over the next few years in private/internal communications between weather centers and aircraft and not included in public bulletins.
During August and September 1950, three tropical cyclones (Hurricanes Baker, Dog and Easy) occurred simultaneously and impacted the United States during August and September 1950 which led to a lot of confusion within the media and the public. As a result during the next tropical cyclone (Fox), Grady Norton decided to start using the names in public statements and in his seasonal summary. This practice continued throughout the season, before the system was made official before the start of the next season. During 1952 there was a lot of confusion surrounding which names should be used after parts of the USWB had adopted the International Phonetic Alphabet, as the old phonetic alphabet was seen as too anglo centric. It was subsequently decided at the 1953 interdepartmental hurricane conference, to start using a list of female names to start naming tropical cyclones after. During the active but mild 1953 Atlantic hurricane season, the names were used in the press with only a few objections recorded. As a result public reception to the idea seemed favorable and the same names were reused during the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season with only one change: Gilda for Gail. However after Hurricanes Carol, Edna, and Hazel had wreaked havoc over the populated northeastern United States during that season, controversy raged with several protests over the use of women’s names as it was felt to be ungentlemanly and or insulting to womenhood. In response to this controversy forecasters claimed that 99% of correspondence received, at the Miami Weather Bureau office supported the use of women’s names for hurricanes.
Forecasters subsequently decided to continue with the current practice of naming hurricanes after women, but developed a new set of names ahead of the 1955 season with the names Carol, Edna and Hazel retired for the next ten years. However before the names could be written, a tropical storm was discovered on January 2, 1955 and named Alice. The Representative T. James Tumulty subsequently announced that he intended to introduce legislation, that would call on the USWB to abandon its practice of naming hurricanes after women and suggested that be named using descriptive terms. Each year until 1960 forecasters decided to develop a new set of names each year. By 1958, the Guam Weather Center had become the Fleet Weather Central/Typhoon Tracking Center on Guam and had started to name systems as they became tropical storms rather than typhoons. Later that year during the 1958-59 cyclone season, the New Caledonia Meteorological Office, started to name tropical cyclones within the Southern Pacific. During 1959 the US Pacific Command Commander in Chief and the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided that the various US Navy and Air-force weather units, would become one unit based on Guam entitled the Fleet Weather Central/Joint Typhoon Warning Center which subsequently started naming the systems for the Western Pacific basin. Later that year a naming scheme was also introduced for the South-West Indian Ocean, with the first cyclone being named Alix.
Before the official naming of tropical cyclones began in each basin, significant tropical cyclones were named after annoying politicians, mythological creatures, saints and place names, or were just simply numbered with a set of code letters before it.
From 1950 the United States Weather Bureau (USWB) began to assign names to tropical cyclones that were judged to have intensified into tropical storms. Storms were originally named in alphabetical order using the World War II version of the Phonetic Alphabet. In 1953 a new set of 23 women's names were used, to avoid any confusion as a secondary phonetic alphabet had been developed. After the active but mild 1953 Atlantic hurricane season, public reception to the idea seemed favorable, so the same list was adopted for the next year with only one change: Gilda for Gail. After storms like Carol and Hazel got a lot of publicity during the 1954 season, forecasters developed a new set of names in time for the 1955 season. However before this could happen, a tropical storm developed on January 2, 1955 and was named as Alice. The new set of names was developed and were used during 1955 beginning with Brenda and continued through the alphabet to Zelda. For each season before 1960, a new set of names was developed before in 1960 forecasters decided to begin rotating names in a regular sequence and thus four alphabetical lists were established to be repeated every four years. The sets followed the example of the western Pacific typhoon naming lists and excluded names beginning with the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z. These four lists were used until 1972 when National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), replaced them with nine lists designed to be used annually from 1972. In 1977 NOAA decided to relinquish control over the name selection and allow a regional committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to select the names. The WMO decided that the names would be used from 1979, with six new lists which contained male names and some Spanish and French names to reflect all the cultures and languages used within the Atlantic Ocean. Since 1979 the same six lists have been used, with names of significant tropical cyclones removed from the lists and replaced with new names. In 2002 subtropical cyclones started to be assigned names from the main list of names set up for that year. In 2005 as all the names preselected for the season were exhausted, the contingency plan of using the Greek alphabet for names had to be used. Since then there have been a few attempts to get rid of the Greek names as they are seen to be inconsistent with the standard naming convention used for tropical cyclones and are generally unknown and confusing to the public. However none of the attempts have succeeded and thus the Greek alphabet will be used should the lists ever be used up again.
Beginning in 1960, tropical cyclones that were judged by the USWB to have intensified into a tropical storm, with winds of more than 65 km/h (40 mph), started to be assigned female names. The original naming lists were designed to be used year after year in sequence before, early in the 1965 season, it was decided to rotate the same lists every four years. In 1977 after protests by various women's rights groups, NOAA made the decision to relinquish control over the name selection by allowing a regional committee of the WMO to select new sets of names. The WMO selected six lists of names which contained male names and rotated every six years. They also decided that the new lists of hurricane name would start to be used in 1978 which was a year earlier than the Atlantic. Since 1978 the same lists of names have been used, with names of significant tropical cyclones removed from the lists and replaced with new names. As in the Atlantic basin, should the names preselected for the season be exhausted, the contingency plan of using the Greek alphabet for names would be used. Unlike in the Atlantic basin, however, the contingency plan has never had to be used, although in 1985, to avoid using the contingency plan, the letters X, Y, and Z were added to the lists.
Beginning in 1950 tropical cyclones that were judged by the Joint Hurricane Warning Center to have intensified into a tropical storm, with winds of more than 65 km/h (40 mph), started to be assigned names. Between 1950 and 1957, tropical storms were given names from the Hawaiian language before the decision was made in 1957 to take names from the Western Pacific list. In 1979, Hawaiian names were reinstated for tropical depressions intensifying in tropical storms within the Central Pacific. Five sets of Hawaiian names, using only the 12 letters of the Hawaiian alphabet, were drafted with the intent being to use the sets of names on an annual rotation basis. However as no tropical cyclones had formed in this region between 1979 and 1981, the original lists were scrapped and replaced with four sets of names. Also, the plan of how to allocate the names was changed to allow all the names to be used consecutively. The naming lists were used until 2007 the lists were revised in conjunction with the University of Hawaii with one-third of the names being retired or replaced.
In 1945 the United States armed services, publicly adopted a list of names that they would name tropical depressions that intensified into tropical storms within the western Pacific. During the 1959 season the U.S. armed services combined to form the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) who took on responsibility for naming all tropical storms between the 100°E and 180. Initially the lists of names only consisted of female names before in April 1979, the naming lists were revised to include male names. In 1998 the WMO's/ESCAP typhoon committee, decided that the current naming lists were too English and decided that they would control the list of names with the names assigned to tropical storms by the Japan Meteorological Agency instead of the JTWC.
In 1963 the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration decided to start naming tropical depressions with the names of Filipino women which ended in ng when they formed or moved into their area of responsibility. They continued the practice of naming tropical depressions, until the 2001 season when they started to name tropical cyclones with male names and scrapped the requirement for them to end in ng.
North Indian ocean
After the 1999 Orissa Cyclone, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on North Indian tropical cyclones during its annual session in 2000, agreed to start assigning names to Cyclonic Storms that developed within the North Indian Ocean. As a result of this, the panel requested that each member country submit a list of ten names to a rapporteur by the end of 2000. At the 2001 session, the rapporteur reported that of the eight countries involved, only India had refused to submit a list of names as it had some reservations, about assigning names to tropical cyclones. The panel then studied the names and felt that some of the names would not be appealing to the public or the media and thus requested that members submit new lists of names. In 2002 the rapporteur reported that there had been a poor response by member countries in resubmitting their lists of names, over the next year each country, bar India submitted a fresh list of names. By the 2004 session, India had still not submitted its names despite promising to do so, however the rapporteur presented the lists of names that would be used with a gap left for India's names. The rapporteur also recommended that the naming lists were used on an experimental basis during the season, starting in May or June 2004. The naming lists were then completed in May 2004, after India submitted their names, however the lists were not used until September 2004 when the first tropical cyclone was named Onil by RSMC New Delhi.
South-West Indian ocean
The formal naming of tropical cyclones in the South-West Indian Ocean began midway through the 1959–60 season. The first name to be assigned was "Alix" in January of 1960. Over the years, there have been various selection processes for selecting the names that will be assigned to tropical and subtropical storms during the season. During the 1980s and 1990s, names were chosen by the national meteorological services of the region, with Madagascar's meteorological service choosing the names at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, while the Seychelles meteorological service selected the names towards the end of the 1990s. Since the start of the 2000–01 season, the names have been selected a couple of seasons in advance by the WMO's tropical cyclone committee for the South West Indian Ocean. Until the WMO took over selecting the names all of the names were female. Since then, both male and female names have been used. Unlike other basins, RSMC La Reunion does not name tropical cyclones as they intensify into tropical or subtropical storms instead they advise either the meteorological service of Mauritius or Madagascar, who then if they agree with the analysis assign a name.
The Australian and South Pacific Ocean basins
Between 1887 and 1908 Clement Wragge named various weather systems within the two basins including tropical cyclones, after anything from mythological creatures to politicians who may have annoyed him. When Wragge retired from meteorology in 1908, the naming of tropical cyclones lapsed and was not officially resumed by the New Zealand Meteorological Service or the Australian Bureau of Meteorology until the 1963–64 tropical cyclone season. However, in the mean time, some tropical cyclones such as Agnes 1956, were given nicknames by fisherman after their mothers-in-law. Between 1963 and 1974–75 female names were used exclusively by the warning centres until after numerous protests from within women's activist groups, the current convention of alternating male and female names began at the start of the 1975–76 cyclone season.
Tropical cyclone formation is rare within the Mediterranean sea, South Atlantic, and to the east of the 120th meridian west in the Southern Pacific, and as a result there are no official naming lists for these areas. In 2004, 2010 and 2011 when tropical cyclones formed within the South Atlantic they were named as Catarina, Anita and Arani.
Tropical cyclone renaming
When a tropical cyclone moves from one basin to another
Generally, when a tropical storm moves from a warning centre's area of responsibility to another its original name will be retained. However, before 2001, the National Hurricane Center, used to rename tropical storms when they moved from the Atlantic to the Eastern Pacific or vice versa. Also when a tropical cyclone moves from the Australian region into the South-West Indian Ocean, the Mauritius Meteorological Service will rename it. However when a tropical cyclone moves from the South-West Indian Ocean into the Australian region, it is not renamed. Prior to the 1984–85 season, tropical cyclones were renamed when they crossed 80°E. After the Australian region was shortened for the start of the 1985–86 season, tropical cyclones were renamed when they crossed the 90°E instead of 80°E.
Uncertainties of the continuation
When the remnants of a tropical cyclone redevelop, the redeveloping system will be treated as a new tropical cyclone if there are uncertainties of the continuation, even though the original system may contribute to the forming of the new system. An example of this is Severe Tropical Cyclone Wasa-Arthur and Tropical Storm Upana-Chanchu in 2000.
Sometimes, there may be human faults leading to the renaming of a tropical cyclone. This is especially true if the storm is poorly organized, such as Tropical Storm Ken–Lola in 1989, or if it passes from the area of responsibility of one forecaster to another.
Those cyclones that have their names retired tend to be exceptionally destructive storms that often become household names in the regions they affected. Within the North Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Australian region, the names of significant tropical cyclones are removed from the lists and retired in a meeting of the WMO's regional committee. As a name is generally not used more than once and fresh naming lists are developed each year, there is no need for significant tropical cyclone names to be retired within the South-West Indian Ocean. There currently is not a public policy of retiring names in the North Indian Ocean, as it is rare for a name to be assigned within TCWC Port Moresby's area of responsibility, so the name is automatically retired regardless of any damage caused.
Other forms of naming
During 1954, a student at the Free University of Berlin's meteorological institute suggested that names should be assigned to all areas of low and high pressure in Central Europe. The university subsequently started to name every area of high or low pressure within its weather forecasts, from a list of 260 male and 260 female names submitted by its students.
- Lists of tropical cyclone names
- List of tropical cyclones
- List of historic tropical cyclone names
- List of retired tropical cyclone names
- George R. Stewart
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- Australian Bureau of Meteorology
- Berlin's Free University's Institute for Meteorology
- Fiji Meteorological Service
- India Meteorological Department
- Indonesian Meteorological Department
- Japan Meteorological Agency
- Mauritius Meteorological Services
- Météo-France –La Reunion
- Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited
- United States Central Pacific Hurricane Center
- United States National Hurricane Center
- United States Weather Channel