Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 175 kmph, cyclonic storm 'Fani' slammed into the Odisha coast Friday morning, uprooting trees and sweeping away thatched huts, as large areas of the seaside pilgrim town of Puri were left submerged. But why exactly is it called ‘Fani’? If this thought crossed your mind then read on. Pronounced ‘Foni’, the cyclone’s name was suggested by Bangladesh. The name means ‘hood of snake’. The World Meteorological Organisation has a detailed procedure of naming the cyclone.
According to its official website, the WMO maintains rotating lists 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 Northern Indian Ocean Names are given by eight nations. India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan and Thailand send names of tropical cyclones.
This rotating list decides the name of the emerging cyclones. The first seven columns of the 8X8 list have been already been exhausted, and Fani is the top name in the last column. According to the list, the next cyclone will be named Vayu, suggested by India. The lists will wind up with Cyclone Amphan, whenever it comes.
In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje's hurricane. Then the mid-1900's saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms.
In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alpabetically. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. Before the end of the 1900's, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere.In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2015 list will be used again in 2021.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm made landfall at around 8 a.m. in Puri but thanks to enough advance warning, about 11 lakh people had already been evacuated from vulnerable and low-lying areas of at least 11 coastal districts by Thursday.
The cyclonic system, whose eye is around 28 km wide, is moving at around 30 kmph, Biswas said. But within the system, the winds are reaching speeds of up to 175 kilometers per hour that may go up to 200 kmph, leaving in their wake uprooted trees and thatched structures, including in the state capital Bhubaneswar.