Biporjoy, Mangkhut, Irma, Maria, Haiyan, Sandy, Katrina, Mitch, Tracy. These names sound cool, don't they? They have an air of intrigue, making you wonder about the stories behind them. But in reality, these names are associated with tremendous destruction and devastation. It's a stark reminder that behind the appealing facade lies the raw power of nature, capable of wreaking havoc on a massive scale.
Recently, Biporjoy has wreaked havoc in the western part of India and Pakistan. India's Home Minister Amit Shah said cyclone Biparjoy (which resulted in landfall with a wind speed of 140 mph, injured 47 people, and killed 234 cattle). Even in Pakistan's Sindh province, 80,000 people from coaster areas had to be evacuated. Cyclone Biporjoy, which means ‘disaster’ in Bengali, has now weakened. While not bearing a catchy name like its predecessors, Biporjoy carries its tale of destruction and resilience. Creating a landfall in Gujarat, before moving onto Rajasthan, it brought heavy rainfall and severe water-logging to several areas.
But the aftermath of Biporjoy is going to last longer. While speaking with the Economic Times, GP Sharma, president of Skymet, claimed that Biporjoy has disrupted the monsoon distribution and circulation patterns in India.
The cyclone's impact on the monsoon system has led to changes in the expected rainfall patterns across the country. The cyclone has disrupted the normal advancement of monsoon currents, causing a delay in the onset of monsoon rains in some regions and altering the overall distribution of rainfall.Skymet further explains that Cyclone Biporjoy's presence has weakened the monsoon winds and reduced moisture incursion into parts of India.
This disruption in the monsoon system could result in deficient rainfall in certain areas, negatively impacting agricultural activities and water resources.Sharma highlighted the need to closely monitor the cyclone's movement and its potential implications on the overall monsoon performance.
Biporjoy serves as a reminder that cyclones, regardless of their names, have the potential to disrupt lives and demand preparedness and resilience from affected communities.
But now, as we witness the aftermath of this powerful cyclone, it prompts us to reflect on the broader subject of cyclones and the methodology behind their naming. While the names themselves often evoke intrigue and curiosity, the reality is that these natural disasters can be ruthless and deadly.
In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of cyclone nomenclature and explore some of the deadliest cyclones that have left an indelible mark on history. When naming cyclones, mother nature seems to have a sense of humour. The process of naming cyclones involves more than simply selecting interesting or captivating names. It follows a systematic approach established by international meteorological organizations.
For instance, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) maintains a list of pre-determined names for cyclones in different regions across the globe. This practice helps track and identify cyclones and facilitates efficient communication and awareness among meteorologists, government agencies, and the public.
However, the contrast between the captivating names and the devastating impact of cyclones is often striking. Consider cyclone Katrina, for example. The name conjures images of elegance and charm, but it unleashed unparalleled destruction when it hit the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005. The storm surge breached levees, leading to catastrophic flooding and a tragic loss of life.
Hurricane Katrina resulted in 1,392 fatalities and caused damage estimated between $97.4 billion and $145.5 billion in late August 2005, particularly in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. It was named after a character in the novel Saintes by the River by Ron Rash. The protagonist Katrina is a journalist who investigates the drowning of a young girl in South Carolina.
Cyclone Mangkhut in 2018 tore through the Philippines and South China, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. With wind speeds reaching up to 180 mph, it caused extensive damage, claiming lives and leaving communities in ruins. The name "Mangkhut" may evoke images of a tranquil natural wonder, but the reality was far from serene.
Similarly, Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 ravaged the Caribbean and the southeastern United States, leaving a lasting impact on the affected regions. While the names may conjure visions of elegance and grace, the hurricanes brought chaos and devastation, displacing communities and leaving scars that will take years to heal.
China named Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, meaning ‘sea bird’ (almost poetic), and it was one of the most potent and destructive cyclones in history. It struck the Philippines with brute force, bringing catastrophic winds and storm surges that claimed thousands of lives and caused immense suffering.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy, with its innocuous name, unleashed its fury along the East Coast of the United States, causing widespread flooding, power outages, and significant infrastructure damage. It was named after the son of a meteorologist. The name might remind you of a relaxing day at the beach, but the reality was far from idyllic.
Cyclone Mitch in 1998 and Hurricane Tracy in 1974, and many others on this list share a similar dichotomy between their names and the destruction they caused. These seemingly harmless monikers mask these cyclones' immense power- capable of turning lives upside down, and leaving lasting scars on communities.
And not just that, a cyclone can break one nation into two. Yes, you heard it right. The Bhola Cyclone of 1970 is a poignant moment in the history of Bangladesh, as it not only unleashed a devastating natural disaster, but also became a catalyst for the birth of a nation.
According to The Cyclone Which Became a Trigger for the Birth of a Nation on GetBengal, the cyclone struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in November 1970, with unimaginable fury. With winds clocking in at 185 km/h (115 mph), it generated a tidal surge that swept through coastal areas, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming the lives of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people.
This catastrophic event fuelled the already simmering discontent among the Bengali population towards West Pakistan's perceived neglect and discrimination. The lacklustre response and relief efforts by the central government during the aftermath of the cyclone further intensified the grievances. The immense loss of life and property, combined with the mounting political dissatisfaction eventually led to the Bangladesh Liberation War and the subsequent birth of the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
The Bhola Cyclone serves as a stark reminder of the devastating power of nature and the profound impact it can have on the socio-political landscape. It became a turning point in the region's history, igniting the flames of independence and shaping the destiny of millions.
Amidst the fascination with these names, we must remember the immense human and environmental toll that cyclones bring. Lives are shattered, homes are destroyed, and communities are left to rebuild from the ground up. The impacts extend far beyond the initial event, as affected regions grapple with the long and arduous healing process.
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