Where do cyclones get their names?

3 Jan

Cyclone season in Australia officially runs from November to April. And over the decades we’ve had some doozies, from Cyclone Tracey in Darwin in 1974 to Cyclone Yasi, which decimated Queensland early last year.

They’re such a destructive force of nature, so I’ve always thought it a bit weird that they get given such innocuous names. I mean there’s just something so inoffensive sounding about Cyclone Ann, isn’t there?

With that in mind, today’s question was a weather-themed one: Where do they get cyclone names from? And the obvious source of answers was the Bureau of Meteorology, which has a page dedicated to this very topic.

Turns out all of BOM’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres work off the same list of 104 names, which was introduced at the start of the 2008/2009 season. They generally run alphabetically and take turns being male and female. So Cyclone Kate will probably be followed by Cyclone Kelvin.

Fortunately/not fortunately? there is no Cyclone Lisa to be found, but if I really wanted to change that, I could try, as the bureau does take written requests. There’s a few regulations, but the one below is my favourite… 

  • Names should not be capable of being construed to subject the Bureau to criticism or ridicule (eg naming a sequence of cyclones after politicians)

Makes me think there’s been a deluge of requests for Little Johnny and/or K-Rudd during the past few years.

And one other thing. If your suggestion is accepted you’ll need to hang around for a while as it can literally be decades before your name is actually allocated to a cyclone.

PS: Eagle eyes will notice Yasi is not on BOM’s list. And there’s a reason for this. Cyclones are generally named by the region where they come from. Yasi originated in Fiji so was named by the Fijian meteorological society.

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