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Tropical cyclone names in the western North Pacific


    Written by: CHAN Chik-cheung    September 2009

    For over a half-century, the US military weather forecasters have named tropical cyclones forming in the western North Pacific. The names used were almost exclusively English feminine names through 1978.  But beginning in 1979 men's names were used with women's names in an alternating manner.

    Starting from 1 January 2000, tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific are named from a new list of names. The new names are words originating in Asia or Pacific islands, and were contributed by members of the World Meteorological Organization's Typhoon Committee. Fourteen nations or regions contributed ten names each to make up a total of 140 names. The new names will be allotted to tropical cyclones reaching tropical storm strength by the Tokyo Typhoon Centre of the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

    These new names have two major differences from the past name lists. Firstly, the names are mostly not names of people.  The majority are names of flowers, animals, birds, trees, or even foods, etc, while some are descriptive adjectives. Secondly, the names are not allotted to the tropical cyclones in alphabetical order of the names, but rather, in alphabetical order of the contributing nations or regions.

    According to the convention of the Typhoon Committee, the country or region which has suffered serious human casualties and economic losses from a tropical cyclone can propose to remove the name of the tropical cyclone from the name list. Sometimes names are removed for other reasons, such as cultural considerations. For example, "Durian" was once a tropical cyclone name but was removed from the list because of the severe damage it incurred. Typhoon Durian crossed the central part of the Philippines in November 2006. Heavy rain associated with Durian triggered widespread mudslides in the region. Over 570 people were killed and 746 missing.  "Durian" was later removed from the list and replaced by the new name "Mangkhut". 


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Last revision date: <21 Dec 2012>