What's in a name of a cyclone, one may wonder. But overnight the name becomes familiar and attains an iconic status of sorts and is on everybody's lips! Be it Nargis, Rashmi, Khai-Muk, Nisha, Bijli, Aila or Laila!

As category 4 upgraded to 5 super cyclone headed for a landfall on Saturday evening , it is Thailand that got the turn to name this cyclone in the Indian Ocean as 'Phailin', that is now on top of everyone's mind . Phailin is sapphire in Thai as the country took it's turn procedurally laid down by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at it's meeting of the Panel on Tropical Cyclones in 2000.While names of people are avoided the database of names are from those selected that are familiar to the people in each region,"

The names of the Cyclones is authorised to the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC), housed in the Indian Meteorological Department 's Mausam Bhavan in New Delhi, that picks up the names ready on the list. The RSMC has been set up in Delhi by the WMO for forecasting tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.

As the cyclones and hurricanes leave a trail of destruction a database is prepared later around the names for an assessment and action plan of the devastation, much later.

While the Nation awaits with a bated breath over Phailin, the next cyclone in the Indian Ocean - whenever it comes - has already been named - Helen by Bangladesh !

(This article was published on October 12, 2013)
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