Yaas: Tropical Cyclones & how they are named

Policharcha.com | Updated: May 25, 2021, 10:32 AM

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Yaas: Tropical Cyclones & how they are named

Before India could track the losses on its western coasts due to the cyclone Tauktae, it has to deal with another 'very severe cyclonic storm', this time, on its eastern coasts. The cyclone 'Yaas' is expected to make a landfall on the coasts of Odisha and West Bengal on Wednesday.

Coasts of Bengal had seen the cyclone Amphan last year too. To review the preparedness of the likely to be affected states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed a high-level meeting on Sunday. State Governments have already started evacuation programs. Military aircrafts and warships had been put on standby for rescue and relief operations. Navy, Coast Guards, and Army are also ready for the same.

Cyclone Yaas

Yaas emerged as a low-pressure area over east central Bay of Bengal between 21 and 22 May, and is expected to touch speeds of 155-165 kmph, and even gust up to 185 kmph. The storm is expected to make landfall between Paradip and Sagar islands on May 26. It is projected to be a very severe cyclonic storm, which is a level 3 cyclone below Super Cyclone and Extremely Severe cyclone. To put into perspective, the recent cyclone, Tauktae, was an ‘extremely severe’ cyclonic storm. ‘Amphan’ of last year was a super cyclone. 

‘Yaas’ has been named by the Gulf Kingdom of Oman. The Arabic meaning of Yaas is pessimism, while the Persian meaning is Jasmine.

Naming of Cyclones

Cyclone names have always fascinated people as they sound random, but are of different languages. A cyclone hitting India can have a name in different language, but a cyclone striking Thailand can have a familiar sounding name. There is a standard procedure which is followed before naming a specific cyclonic storm. The naming of cyclones is based on the region in which cyclone emerges. Worldwide there are 6 Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMC) which can be seen as 6 regional offices for identifying and naming cyclones.

The Indian Meteorological Department is one of these RSMCs. They have the responsibility to name cyclones emerging in North Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea. 13 members are provided with cyclone advisories from this centre, namely, India, Bangladesh, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE, and Yemen. 

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) maintains rotating list of names, which are submitted by the countries of a particular centre. The names can be submitted only within certain guidelines:-

  1. The proposed name must be neutral to politics and political figures, religious beliefs, cultures, and genders. 
  2. It must not hurt the sentiments of any group of people across the world.
  3. It must not be rude and cruel in nature.
  4. The name must be short, easy to pronounce, and inoffensive to any member.
  5. It must be of a maximum of eight letters, and be given with its pronunciation and voice over.
  6. The names of cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again.

‘Tauktae’ was named by Myanmar, which literally meant a highly vocal snake. Cyclone ‘Fani’ is named after a Bengali word for the hood of a snake. It was given by Bangladesh. India gave cyclone ‘Vayu’ its name. Vayu hit Gujarat in 2017.

The next name in line is urdu word ‘Gulaab’, which means rose. Pakistan has suggested the name. After it, ‘Shaheen’ suggested by Qatar is lined up.


Also read: How are cyclones classified 


PM reviews the situation

At the high-level meeting, on Sunday, the PM asked officials to ensure proper coordination and planning with the state governments so that there is no disruption in Covid-19 treatments and the vaccine drives in the hospital. 

"He (PM) also spoke about the need to involve district administrations in the planning and preparedness for better learning from best practices and seamless co-ordination. PM directed officials that advisories and instructions on dos and don’ts during the cyclone be made available in east to understand local languages to citizens of the affected districts,” a Government Press Release said on Sunday.

Home Minister Amit Shah also held a meeting to review the plans of the concerned states on Monday. The meeting was skipped by Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banarjee though.

A day before Prime Minister’s meeting, cabinet secretary Rajeev Guaba had also held a meeting of the National Crisis management Committee on May 22, with chief secretaries of all coastal states and the ministries concerned. 

States’ preparations

West Bengal Government’s warnings prompted fishermen to return to the shores in the state. 12 NDRF teams have also been deployed to respond to the destruction by the cyclone Yaas, while SDRF, Disaster Management Group, and Civil Defence have also been put on standby. State government has also cancelled holidays of concerned officials to deal with the cyclone.

Districts of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Paradip, and Bhadrak in Odisha have already started receiving heavy rain from Monday. The state has targeted ‘zero casualties’ in its preparation plans. Evacuation plans, both pre-cyclone and post-cyclone rescue, and recovery operations plans have been laid out. As the cyclone intensifies into a severe cyclonic storm, 8 NDRF teams have been moved to Odisha. Bhubaneshwar Municipal Committee has planned to evacuate about 20,000 people form low lying areas of the region.

Both Odisha and West Bengal are not new targets of Cyclonic storms. Cyclone Amphan pumelled Bengal’s coast last year killing nearly a hundred people. It was the costliest cyclone ever in terms of damage caused recorded in the North Indian Ocean. A year earlier cyclone Fani swept through the shores of Odisha. It was recorded as the strongest cyclone to hit the state since 1999.

Understanding cyclone formation

The world experiences more than 70 cyclones in a year. Cyclone formation is a very complex phenomena. Basically when the sea gets warmer than usual, and the temperature difference between sea and air is large, the hot air above it rises. This causes an area of lower pressure below. Cool air then rushes into that void which again gets warm, and the cycle continues till it intensifies. The warmed, moist air rises, and cools the water in the air to form clouds. Fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the ocean surface, the whole system of clouds & wind spins and grows. An eye is formed in the centre of system. The system which was already moving keeps gaining speed. 

The system keeps on intensifying till it hits the land. On hitting the land, its source of energy, the warm water, is no more there, so the system slowly dies. Though the momentum can carry it deep into the land as well.

Global warming is thought of as the reason behind rising number of such cyclonic storms. Experts believe that due to global warming storms are intensifying at a rapid pace which is making it difficult to predict exact severity of recent storms. They intensify quickly and destruct more in short span of time.


This article is written by Gaurav Thakur