LAHORE - As tropical cyclone in Arabian Sea is heading towards Pakistan, its regional name –Nilofar- is talk of the town with the people asking how the nomenclature of hurricanes is decided and as to why majority of them carry female names.

Though vast majority of the people are concerned about possible havoc the storm can play with coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, still many of them are curious to know why the hurricane has been named ‘Nilofar’ and not as ‘Gullu Butt’. Interestingly, majority of the people are not making any effort to know the mechanism of naming a hurricane and reason behind such exercise. Though meteorological experts are the source of exact information, not only people at large but also legislators prefer to engage in fruitless discussion even at assembly floor instead of getting knowledge from the right man. Not only the legislators but also the Sindh Assembly Speaker continued discussing the issue and none of them was aware that why the hurricane was named Nilofar and not any other title.

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterised by a low-pressure centre, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain.

Meteorological expert Shaukat Ali Awan said hurricanes are given such names that are easily identified in specific regions.

“In addition to international names which are usually in numbers and digits such as 04 A in case of Nilofar, countries in specific regions submit lists of names for easy identification of hurricanes. Name Nilofar has been taken from the list provided by Pakistan. It is a routine exercise that is carried out for easy identification of cyclones as international names are not that much familiar”, Shaukat Ali Awan said, adding, the list also carried male names and it is a coincidence that title of Nilofar is selected this time.

Referring to the possible dangers Nilofar could cause in coastal areas of Balochistan and Sindh including Karachi, he said that besides good rains storm swell could cause inundation of sea water in Delta.

The Meteorological Department has forecast widespread rain-thundershowers accompanied by strong gusty winds with isolated heavy falls for lower Sindh including Karachi and Coastal Areas of Balochistan from Wednesday (evening/night) to Friday.

According to the experts, very severe tropical cyclone (Nilofar) in Arabian Sea is now located at Lat 16.0°N and Long 61.6°E, about 1120 km in southwest of Karachi and 1010 Km south of Gawadar. The cyclone is likely to move northward in next 24 hours with a speed of 5 km/hour and re-curve northeastwards (towards adjoining coastal areas of lower Sindh and Indian Gujrat) on Wednesday (today). A shallow westerly wave is affecting upper parts of the country and likely to move eastwards during next 12-18 hours.

The Met Office has forecast partly cloudy weather with chances of rains for Lahore during the next couple of days. Widespread rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy/very heavy falls accompanied by strong gusty winds are expected in lower Sindh including Karachi and coastal areas of Balochistan. Isolated rain-thunderstorm (with light snowfall over the hills) is expected in Malakand division and Gilgit-Baltistan.