According to a report, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has the mandate to give names to Tropical Cyclones.
The organisation has 54 member countries including Zimbabwe. The organisation holds a congress meeting every four years in which each member country submits 10 names from their countries.
During the four years, cyclones are named using the phonetic alphabet A to Z, meaning that we are presently at ‘I’ and the next time we will probably be at ‘J’.
It is therefore not surprising that a Tropical Cyclone that formed in the Indian Ocean soon after Idai was named Cyclone Joanina.
Why was the deadly cyclone named ‘Idai’? It was probably because Zimbabwe had produced a name with ‘I’ and they wanted a name which started with ‘I’. ‘Idai’ is a Shona word meaning, ‘to love’.
Lists of names of cyclones are compiled and maintained by various meteorological committees regionally and submitted to the WMO annually.
A tropical cyclone is not given a name until the sustained maximum wind speed reaches a threshold of 34 knots.
A climate scientist at the Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Professor Manatsa said:
Experts from meteorological offices in the cyclone region, South-West Indian ocean, which includes Zimbabwe, met and suggested the names. The names are then put in alphabetical order for that year.
As the cyclones develop, they are given these names, beginning with those on top of the alphabet. Names are only valid for the current season.
But when the cyclone season ends, all names which have not been used are discarded. They will start a new list the following season.