On 8th May 2023, the Indian Meteorological Department first noted a low-pressure area in the greater north Indian Ocean. The low-pressure area then gradually turned into a depression to be the first severe cyclonic storm of 2023 in the region. The depression gradually elevated to severe and then extremely severe cyclonic storm Mocha. So why is it called “Mocha”, and what is the procedure for naming storms? And more importantly, what will be the impact of the storm? Here’s what we know.
Why and how are cyclones named?
Cyclones are named for the sole purpose of making them easily identifiable to people. In the case of severe cyclonic storms, there is an immediate need for information decimated across different mediums. Additionally, there can be more than one active cyclone in a region. So for easy distinction and correct information availability, the regional meteorological organizations follow a certain naming process for all tropical cyclones.
The World Meteorological Organization or WMO has a set of rules for naming tropical cyclones. This naming follows regional nomenclature that has been already predetermined and sanctioned by the regional countries.
The Atlantic and Southern hemispheric regions use alphabetical naming order alternating between men's and women’s names. However, in 2000, the North Indian Oceanic regions proposed a new naming system that is alphabetically listed country-wise and is gender-neutral.
These names are used on a rotation basis. However, if the damage and casualties arising from a tropical cyclone become excessive, the regional meteorological organizations retire the names, and new names are added in their place.
In the case of North Indian oceanic regions, each name is retired after use, regardless of the damage or casualty.
How was Cyclone Mocha Named?
If it’s any wonder, then yes, Cyclone Mocha is indeed the same Mocha as the famous coffee variant. While it may seem like there is no distinct connection between the two, the sanctioned naming process made the first tropical cyclone in the region for the year to be named Mocha.
There are six regional specialized meteorological centers (RSMC) across the globe. The IMD based in Delhi is one of the six RSMCs. The RSMCs are primarily responsible for naming the cyclone in a designated manner.
The current alphabetical and gender-neutral naming process has been implemented since 2004. Initially, the RSMC took designated names from 8 countries and later 5 more countries joined the regional center. With 13 names from 13 countries, the RSMC has a list of 169 names which it uses in the countries’ alphabetical order.
The name Mocha (pronounced as Mokha) was proposed by Yemen, after the famous port in the Red Sea known for its coffee production.
Current State of Cyclone Mocha
The cyclone is expected to reach around 190 to 210 kmph when it makes landfall by 14th May evening. The tidal surge caused by Mocha is expected to reach a maximum height of 3 meters while crossing over Cox’s Bazar and adjoining areas of Myanmar.
Thousands of people from the coastal areas including St Martin have already been evacuated. The local authority of St Martin declared all hotels, motels, and resorts as a temporary shelter area for those who still remain on the island. Bangladesh Meteorological Department has announced Great Danger Signal 10 as of 13th May on all the regional land and ports of the country.