Fani is likely to hit Bangladesh on Friday
Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh—and other states with coastlines hugging the Bay of Bengal—are bracing for Cyclone Fani to make landfall. Cyclone Fani—pronounced "Foni"—is gaining strength over the southeast Bay of Bengal and will soon develop into an "extremely severe cyclonic" storm.
The name for this cyclone was suggested by Bangladesh, reports India Today.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has devised a mechanism where countries submit it a list of names from time-to-time. Cyclone names are chosen from this pool.
For tropical cyclones developing in the North Indian Ocean, countries—like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, and Thailand—send in their names to the regional tropical cyclone committee.
At present, all eight countries have submitted eight names each, to name future cyclones. The name Fani was chosen from the list of 64 names.
The word Fani means snake.
Last year, Cyclone Titli hit Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha. This cyclone was named by Pakistan. In 2017, Cyclone Ockhi caused severe damage in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. Its name was given by Thailand.
The names suggested by India are: Agni, Akash, Bijli, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar, and Vayu.
How countries select names
While selecting names for cyclones, countries have to ensure that the word is easily understood by people in the region, hence the names are generally familiar words.
"The main purpose of naming a tropical cyclone is basically for people to easily understand and remember the tropical cyclone in a region; thus to facilitate tropical cyclone disaster: risk awareness, preparedness, management, and reduction," the WMO says in its explanation for how cyclones are named.
Another important reason why cyclones are named is to help authorities quickly identify storms—and keep a track of them—because it is easier to remember cyclones by their names than remember them using technical information like longitude and latitude.
Besides this, naming cyclones also helps media in reporting warnings related to the approaching cyclone.
The WMO says experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written, as well as spoken, communications is quicker and less subject to error.
"These advantages are especially important in exchanging detailed storm information between hundreds of widely scattered stations, coastal bases, and ships at sea," it explains.
Navy, Coast Guard on standby
Meanwhile, the government has alerted the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, and local authorities to be prepared when Cyclone Fani makes landfall.
Light-to-moderate rain is expected—in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha—while the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rain in Kerala.
In its latest weather forecast, on Tuesday morning, IMD said Fani has intensified into a "very severe cyclonic storm."
"It will very likely to intensify further into an extremely severe cyclonic storm during next 36 hours. It will very likely move northwestwards, till the evening of May 1, and thereafter re-curve north-northeastwards towards the Odisha coast," the IMD said.