Context: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recently released a list of 169 names of future tropical cyclones that would emerge in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

More about the news:

  • The list of 169 cyclone names released, consisted of 13 names from each of the 13 countries. 
  • The 13 names in the recent list that have been suggested by India include: Gati, Tej, Murasu, Aag, Vyom, Jhar, Probaho, Neer, Prabhanjan, Ghurni, Ambud, Jaladhi, and Vega.
  • The new list also included the last name from the previous list (Amphan) as it remained unused at the time of release.
  • The IMD has also issued an alert for Cyclone Amphan, which is forming over the southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman sea.
    • The IMD has issued an ‘orange alert’ for May 19 and 20 when heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to take place in coastal districts of Odisha.

Process of naming the cyclone

  • Background:
    • In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP(World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) decided to start naming cyclones in the region.
    • The group earlier comprised 8 nations: Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
    • Expansion of the list of countries:
      • The WMO/ESCAP expanded to include five more countries in 2018 — Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
  • Cyclones that form in every ocean basin across the world are named by the regional specialized meteorological centers (RSMCs) and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs).
  • Role of the India Meteorological Department (IMD):
    • There are six RSMCs in the world which include the India Meteorological Department (IMD), and five TCWCs.
    • As an RSMC, the IMD names the cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, after following a standard procedure. 
    • The IMD is also mandated to issue advisories to 12 other countries in the region on the development of cyclones and storms.
  • After each of the 13 countries sends in suggestions, the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) finalizes the list.
  • After the final list cyclones are named sequentially, with each cyclone given the name sent by an individual country one by one.

Importance of naming a cyclone

  • Adopting names for cyclones makes it easier for people to remember, as opposed to numbers and technical terms. 
  • Apart from the general public, it also helps the scientific community, the media, disaster managers, etc. 
  • Naming of the cyclone makes it easier to identify individual cyclones, create awareness of its development, rapidly disseminate warnings to increased community preparedness, and remove confusion where there are multiple cyclonic systems over a region.

Guidelines for adopting names of cyclones

While picking names for cyclones the countries need to follow the following set of rules. 

  • The proposed name should be neutral to 
    • politics and political figures 
    • religious beliefs, 
    • cultures and 
    • gender
  • Name should be chosen in such a way that it does not hurt the sentiments of any group of the population over the globe.
  • It should not be very rude and cruel in nature
  • The name should be short, easy to pronounce and should not be offensive to any member
  • The maximum length of the name will be eight letters.
  • The proposed name should be provided with its pronunciation and voice over
  • The names of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean will not be repeated. Once used, it will cease to be used again. Therefore the name should be new.

About WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC)

  • It is an intergovernmental regional body jointly established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (ESCAP) in 1972.
  • It is associated with the Tropical Cyclone Programme of WMO.
  • The objective of the Panel is 
    • To promote measures to improve tropical cyclone warning systems in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. 
    • Including dissemination of technical information on tropical cyclone research 
    • Forecasting operations to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of tropical cyclone-related disasters. 
  • The Panel develops activities under five components: Meteorology, Hydrology, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Training, and Research.  


About World Meteorological Organisation

  • WMO was created in 1950 as an intergovernmental organization.  
  • It became a specialized agency of the United Nations, in 1951, for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.  
  • WMO is the UN systems authoritative voice on weather, climate and water.  
  • Secretariat - Geneva, Switzerland.  
  • Through its members, WMO provides forecasts and early warnings to nations, which help prevent and mitigate disasters.  


  • WMO monitors and forecasts the transport of chemical and oil spills, forest fires, volcanic ash, haze and nuclear isotopes.  
  • It also draws world attention to the depletion of the ozone layer.  


Colour-coded alerts of IMD


  • It stands for ‘No warning’
  • No action needs to be taken by the authorities, and the forecast is of light to moderate rain.


  • It stands for “Watch”
  • Authorities are advised to “Be updated” on the situation


  • It stands for “Alert”
  • Authorities are expected to “Be prepared”. 
  • The forecast during an Orange warning is of heavy to very heavy rainfall.


  • It stands for “Warning”
  • It asks authorities to “Take action”. 
  • The forecast is for extremely heavy rainfall. 
  • The IMD, however, clarifies that “Red colour warning does not mean ‘Red Alert’,” and that it only means “take action”.