‘Asani’ Developing Over Bay Of Bengal! Who Named The Cyclone & What Does It Mean?

Bhubaneswar: The cyclonic circulation over South Andaman Sea is likely to develop into a low-pressure area over the same region around May 6 and move northwestwards before gradually intensifying into a depression during the subsequent 48 hours, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday.

Stating that the probability of cyclones is high in May, IMD DG Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said that the environmental conditions are favourable for the intensification of the system into a storm. “Projection of intensity and landfall place can only be made after the formation of the low pressure,” he added.

Different weather models, however, indicate that the system may move either towards Odisha, West Bengal or Bangladesh.

Also Read: 4th Successive Cyclone In May! Odisha, Bengal Or Bangladesh; Check Weather Models Forecast

Notably, storms during the month of May threaten Myanmar, Bangladesh, West Bengal and Odisha. Between 2011 and 2021, the Bay of Bengal has witnessed six storms, including the extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ which made landfall in Odisha near Puri on May 3, 2019, with wind speed of 175-185 kmph gusting up to 205 kmph.

Amphan roared into West Bengal, around 20km east of Sagar Island in the Sunderbans, packing winds gusting to a top speed of 185 kmph on May 21, 2020. The following year, cyclone Yaas battered the northern coastline of Odisha with powerful winds and rains as it made landfall at Bahanaga block with a sustained wind speed of 130 to 140 kmph gusting up to 155 kmph on May 26.

The other three tropical storms – Viyaru (2013), Roanu (2016), Mora (2017) – struck Bangladesh near Chittagong.

If this system intensifies into a cyclonic storm, it will be called ‘Cyclone Asani’, a name given by Sri Lanka. The name roughly translates to ‘wrath’ in Sinhala.

It is among the list of 169 storms listed by IMD in 2020. ‘Amphan’ was last in the list of names for cyclones complied in 2004 and a new panel of  India, Bangladesh, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen was formed in 2018 to decide the names of the future cyclones.

Nisarga was the first name on the list followed by Gati, Nivar, Burevi, Tauktae, Yaas, Gulab, Shaheen, Jawad and now, Asani

Among these, India had proposed Gati (speed), Tej (speed), Marasu (musical instrument in Tamil), Aag (fire) and Neer (water) etc.


Cyclones and hurricanes that create havoc and destruction and even those that don’t, are often given such peculiar names. The names have always been amusing but ever wondered how these are chosen and why?

Cyclones were not identified by any name initially, but the tradition started with a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. The name given was Antje, as the hurricane ripped off the mast of bast of the same name. Any tropical storm reaching a sustained wind speed of 39 miles per hour was given some name.

Just so you are not confused, cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons are all the same. Tropical storms are termed differently in different parts of the world. They are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the Pacific, and cyclones in the Indian Ocean. Any storm, whose wind speed reaches or crosses 74 miles per hour, is classified as a cyclone.


Starting from the start of naming cyclones, people in the Caribbean islands would give storms some local names, all of which were based on the saint of the day from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. The Atlantics have been naming storms for the past few hundred years.

The Caribbean tradition continued till World War II. Post the war, forecasters and meteorologists started using female names to identify the storms.

The US weather service, in 1953, took the idea and created a new phonetic alphabet (international) of women’s names from A to W, except the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z in the pursuit of a more organised and efficient naming system.


The idea of portraying women as destructive drew criticism. The protests led to the inclusion of male names for the storms since 1978. From then on, men’s names were introduced and they alternate with the women’s names under which, six lists are used in rotation.


The naming of cyclones across the globe is a recent phenomenon. World Meteorological Organization is usually the apex body deciding the names. In India, or the storms arising in the Indian Ocean, the procedure of assigning names began in 2000. However, a set formula was agreed upon only in 2004 – the reason Odisha’s 1999 Supercyclone had no name. The names are given by the Indian Meteorological Department and the first tropical cyclone to be named was Onil, in 2004. It was a name given by Bangladesh.

The question as to why name a cyclone has quite an unexpectedly simple answer – for easy remembrance and tracking. It is easier to say ‘Cyclone Titli’ in 2018, than memorising the number of the storm’s longitude and latitude. Names are also helpful when there are more than one cyclones to track.

The use of short, distinctive names makes it less cumbersome. For the media, it becomes easier to report by using names. The names are also helpful in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea.


The cyclones that cause widespread damage and deaths usually retire. It means these names are not used at least for 10 years. New names replace those. An annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees strikes off these offending names from the list.

Once officially retired, done as a mark of respect to the dead, the names are replaced with a name of the same gender and beginning with the same letter. Since 1972, as many as 50 names have been struck off, including infamous ones like Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998).

And no, the World Meteorological Organization never runs out of names! They have a long list of names contributed by different sections of the world, the nine regions. They are North Atlantic, Eastern North Pacific, Central North Pacific, Western North Pacific, North Indian Ocean, South-West Indian Ocean, Australian, Southern Pacific and South Atlantic.

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