How tropical cyclones get their names

Queenslanders are being warned to brace for ‘a monster’ as Category 4 Cyclone Debbie heads towards the state

Tropical cyclones don’t get their names by chance. Picture: Supplied

WHILE seemingly random, the process of naming a tropical cyclone does not occur aimlessly.

In fact, the Bureau of Meteorology have a systematic approach used to differentiate their “Catherines” from their “Debbies”.

As parents might consult a list of baby names, meteorologists have a list of cyclone names that was introduced for the beginning of the 2008/2009 season, replacing three lists that existed previously.

Updating: Monster cyclone bears down on Queensland mainland

The names are usually chosen in sequence, working through the alphabet from A-Z and alternating between male and female.

Cyclone Debbie, currently threatening Queensland’s north coast, would have been called Cyclone Caleb had a system off the coast of Western Australia not formed into a cyclone first.

Cyclone Debbie hovers near the Queensland coast. Picture: NASA/Aqua/MODISSource:Supplied

When the list is exhausted, the list starts again until BoM introduce a new list of names.

After Cyclone Debbie will come Ernie, Frances, Greg and Hilda.

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Not all tropical cyclone names make the cut. All names must be submitted to the World Meteorological Organisation Regional Tropical Cyclone Committee for the SE Pacific for final approval.

Generally, a name will be rejected if the pronunciation is too difficult, if it has a similar name to a recent cyclone or another country’s list, or if the meaning of the name is inappropriate.

Names of cyclones that have significantly affected the Australian region are “retired” and cannot be used again, such as Cyclone Tracy.

Darwin’s northern suburbs shortly after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Picture: Beat ErismannSource:News…

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