Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hurricane Vanilla Crashing

For the past few days, I have been reading about how the people in New Orleans fled the city fearing the arrival of Hurricane Gustav. This time they are determined not to have a repeat of the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

A few months back, Cyclone Nargis took thousands of lives i
n Myanmar and last year, Typhoon Krosa crashed into the coastal area in China near Zhejiang, forcing the evacuation of 1.4 million people.

I find it hard to differentiate hurricane, cyclone and a typhoon. I remember trying to read up to get a better idea but was getting no where. Geography has never been easy for me.

Put it simply, they all refer to storms and strong winds. Very quickly without being twirled into the geographical details, this is what I understand: People around the Indian Ocean and Southwestern Pacific Ocean refer to these storms as cyclones and those storms that generate in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean are called typhoons. For people around the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific Ocean, they call such powerful, cylindrical storms hurricanes.

Confusing? Just accept that they all mean stormy winds. How about their names? Gustav, Katrina, Nargis and Krosa, who named them?

Initially, Hurricanes were named after women, probably equating the temperament of the two creations of nature. Later, male names were included to pacify the women's libbers. There are 6 lists of names and each list consists of 21 names in alphabetical order. Each year, a list is used to name the Hurricanes and the next list is used for the following year. The lists are recycled after 6 years. Cyclones have similar naming system whilst Typhoons are christened according to a rotation of 140 words from regional languages in 14 Asian-Pacific countries.

Phew!, I think I have sufficient dosage of geography for now. Actually, all I really wanted to find out was whether these disasters have been consistently named after women. OK. I am adequately pacified now.

Before signing off, let's pray for the people in New Orleans.

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