Naming a Storm: How Tropical Cyclone #Dineo got its name

2017-02-14 18:01 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - The eyes of Southern Africa are on Tropical Cyclone #Dineo as the storm approaches Mozambique, due to make landfall on Wednesday, 15 February. 

According to the South African Weather Service, Dineo will likely affect SA's Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces with heavy rain after moving across Mozambique. 

READ: ALERT Update: 'Intense Tropical Cyclone' status confirmed for #Dineo storm

The Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) La Reunion has updated the expected evolution of Dineo, which is now expected to reach Tropical Cyclone stage winds of up to 118-165km/h. 

Thereafter, the SA Weather Service says, a "further intensification is expected and the storm will reach the Intense Tropical Cyclone stage with winds of up to 166-212 km/h around midday on Wednesday, before making landfall at midnight near Inhambane in southern Mozambique". 

As #Dineo creeps closer, many weather watchers have been fascinated by how the storm actually got its name.


The unique name assigned a storm is done according to a pre-defined alphabetical list, valid for the current, in this 2016/2017, tropical storm season in the world's oceans. 

In Dineo's case, this is the South-West Indian ocean region.

The list for our 2016/2017 tropical storm names are as follows: Abela, Bransby, Carlos, Dineo, Enawo, Fernando, Gabekile, Herold, Irondo, Jeruto, Kundai, Lisebo, Michel, Nousra, Olivier, Pokera, Quincy, Rebaone, Salama, Tristan, Ursula, Violet, Wilson, Xila, Yekela, Zania. 

The name 'Dineo', as seen in the list above, is an alphabetical follow-up to last week's tropical storm named Carlos, which was the third such system in our ocean region this season, affecting the area east of Madagascar. 


Why would we name a storm? 

Tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones are named by various warning centers to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings. 

The names are intended to reduce confusion in the event of concurrent storms in the same basin.

Before the formal start of naming, tropical cyclones were named after places, objects, or saints' feast days on which they occurred. 

When did we start naming storms?

The credit for the first usage of personal names for weather systems is generally given to the Queensland Government Meteorologist Clement Wragge, who named systems between 1887 and 1907. This system of naming weather systems, however, fell into disuse for several years after Wragge retired, until it was revived in the latter part of World War II for the Western Pacific.

Formal naming schemes and naming lists have subsequently been introduced and developed for the Eastern, Central, Western and Southern Pacific basins, as well as the Australian region, Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean.

According to the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tropical storms and hurricanes were tracked by year and the order in which they occurred during that year up until the early 1950s. 

Over time, however, it was established that the use of short, easily remembered names in written as well as spoken communications would be quicker and would reduce confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time. 

In 1953 then, the United States began using female names for storms and, by 1978, both male and female names were used to identify Northern Pacific storms. This was then adopted in 1979 for storms in the Atlantic basin as well. 

The naming of tropical storms is done on a universal basis by a strict procedure established by the World Meteorological Organization

In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in a season, any additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.

NOTE: Storm's names can also change, and this happens when a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate. 

You would not, for example, find another Hurricane Katrina in our day, as this notorious storm, which occurred in 2005, was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. 


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