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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

deep depression becomes Cyclone 'Nilam' - behind the name

It has been raining continuously in Chennai and all parts of coastal Tamil Nadu. Not so good news - the  deep depression lying 500 km south east of Chennai has intensified into a cyclonic storm and is expected to cross the coast between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, bringing in torrential rains in the region.

The intensified force now has a name -  'Nilam', [Sun TV had it as ‘Neelam’ – which in Tamil means blue; whereas Nilam in Tamil means land] as suggested by Pakistan under the cyclone naming procedure.  Nilam is expected to  move northwestwards and cross the coast between Nagapattinam and Nellore by Wednesday afternoon/evening.  Read more to know the meaning or rather reasoning of 'Nilam'

Coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have been  issued cyclone warning on Tuesday. One can recall the devastating effects at the start of the year or to be precise towards the last couple of days of the previous year – Dec 2011 – cyclone Thane struck Cuddalore, Pondy leaving at least 46 dead in Tamilnadu and Pondy and also causing large scale damage to houses, farm lands, industries and others. 

This cyclone is expected to be  milder than Thane. Thane hit the coast at 160 kms per hour; Met Department expects the speed squally winds of Nilam to be around  45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph. Officials from the Ports of Chennai and Tuticorin have said that as part of safety measured they moved all the vessels from the Port to the anchorage area. At Chennai port 12 vessels were moved from the Port to the anchorage area on Tuesday evening.  Authorities from the Nagapattinam district, one of the worst hit areas during Thane cyclone, said that the each department including the police, fire and rescue services have been allotted specific work and they are geared up fully, 21 cyclone shelters are set ready.

In Chennai Corporation schools and community kitchens are getting ready to be used as temporary relief centres.  Schools have been declared holidays today and tomorrow, so did some Manufacturing units in the city.  Chennaiites have to brace for  heavy rains tonight also as the weather models indicate that the cyclonic storm is likely to  move westwards and could  cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast between Nagapattinam and Nellore on Wednesday midnight.

According to the Meteorological department, distant cautionary signal number one has been hoisted at Chennai port. This is the lowest among the signals, which indicates the potential cyclonic storm.
If you are wondering why ‘Nilam’ and how it belongs to Pakistan - Tropical cyclones have officially been named since 1945 and are named for a variety of reasons, which include to facilitate communications between forecasters and the public when forecasts, watches, and warnings are issued. Names also reduce confusion about what storm is being described, as more than one can occur in the same region at the same time.  The official practice of naming tropical cyclones started in 1945 within the Western Pacific and was gradually extended out until 2004, when the India Meteorological Department started to namecyclonic storms within the North Indian ocean. Before the official practice of naming of tropical cyclones began, significant tropical cyclones were named after annoying politicians, mythological creatures, saints and place names. Names are drawn in order from predetermined lists  and are usually assigned to tropical cyclones with one, three, or ten minute sustained windspeeds of more than 65 km/h (40 mph) depending on which area it originates.

In the basin of North Indian Ocean (45°E – 100°E), a tropical cyclone is assigned a name when it is judged to have reached Cyclonic Storm intensity with winds of 65 km/h (40 mph). The names were selected by members of the ESCAP/WMO panel on Tropical Cyclones between 2000 and May 2004, before the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in New Delhi started to assign names in September 2004.

While India contributed names such as : Agni, Akash, Bijli, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar, Vayu; Bangladesh gave – Onil, Ogni, Nisha, Giri….; Gonu was given by Maldives;  Myanmar gave – Pyarr,  Phyan, Thane,… Oman gave – Baaz, Sidr, Murjan… Pakistan gave : Fanoos, Nargis, Laila, Nilam, Nilofar.. Sri Lanka gave Mala, Rashmi, Bandu, Priya… Thailand – Mukda, Phet… etc.,

With regards
S. Sampathkumar
30th Oct 2012 @ 18:00 hrs.


  1. Sampath Sir, Thanks for this useful information.

    As a Chennaite, we always tend to feel that any cyclone only gives great threat but don't generally cross our shore. May be that is one of the reason that we don't take much needed serious precautions. Of course, in the past there are couple of occasion that it hit chennai but in the recent years, the closest I would say, is the last year Thane strom.

    Probably because of the geographical position of Chennai, we are escaping with just rainfall. May be this time also :-)

    In my opinion, even the rainfall is difficult to handle leaving alone storm.

  2. finally we got it we are lucky that nilam has ble3ssed with copious rains this time rain starvd staterelief what happen3d to kaveri water almighy will take careoff halo kannadigas give water dont stop by bandh almight is with us beware of nature

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