A couple sit idle as water washes up on Cannonvale Beach during Tropical Cyclone Dylan.
A couple sit idle as water washes up on Cannonvale Beach during Tropical Cyclone Dylan. Matthew Newton

Hilda, Irving, Joyce and Kelvin: Meet 2017-18's cyclones

CYCLONE Hilda will be the name given to the first cyclone that forms in Australian waters this season; and the bureau has released the names of the ones who'll follow her.

Last season, cyclones that formed included TC Yvette, TC Alfred, TC Blanche, TC Caleb, TC Debbie, TC Ernie, TC Frances and TC Greg.

While the biggest system of all that formed was Cyclone Debbie, that decimated parts of the Mackay and Whitsunday regions, most of the systems above were downgraded before crossing the coast.

So how are tropical cyclones named?

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Andrea Pace explained why and how.

"We name tropical cyclones so we can easily communicate information about them with the community, and also so to reduce confusion if multiple cyclones occur at once," Ms Pace said.

The naming of cyclones began back in 1887 with Clement Wragge, who named cyclones after letters in the Greek alphabet, mythological creatures and political figures of the time.

"After Wragge moved on from meteorology around 1902, the naming of storms and cyclones really fell away with only a handful of countries naming severe weather events," Ms Pace said.

"It was about 60 years later that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology formalised the practice and Tropical Cyclone Bessie, which formed off Western Australia on January 6, 1964 was the first cyclone to be officially named by the bureau."

Other countries then followed suit, giving female names to cyclones until International Women's Year in 1975, the then-Australian Science Minister ordered they be given both male and female names.


Nowadays, the Bureau names cyclones based on a pre-determined alphabetical list, alternating between male and female names.

The Bureau currently has enough names on the list to last the next 10 cyclone seasons.

"Names can be reused, but when a cyclone causes significant loss or damage, like Tracy in 1974 or Larry in 2006, we permanently retire the name," Ms Pace explained.

"And if a name comes up that matches a prominent person of the day, we move to the next name to avoid any offence or confusion."

Also, if a cyclone forms in another region like the Pacific Islands or the Indian Ocean and moves into Australian waters, it keeps the name given by that particular region's agency, as was the case with Cyclone Yasi in 2011 that originated near Fiji.

The full list of upcoming cyclone names for the 2017-18 season in the order they form:

  • Hilda
  • Irving
  • Joyce
  • Kelvin
  • Linda
  • Marcus
  • Nora
  • Owen
  • Penny
  • Riley
  • Savannah
  • Trevor
  • Veronica
  • Wallace
  • Ann
  • Blake
  • Claudia
  • Damien
  • Esther
  • Ferdinand
  • Gretel
  • Harold
  • Imogen
  • Joshua
  • Kimi
  • Lucas
  • Marian
  • Noah
  • Odette
  • Paddy
  • Ruby
  • Seth
  • Tiffany
  • Vernon

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