|Home | Welcome | What's New | Site Map | Glossary | Weather Doctor Amazon Store | Book Store | Accolades | Email Us|
The Origin of Cyclone
Cyclone the word has struck dread in the hearts of many facing its fury. For others, it means only a swirl of counterclockwise winds around a low pressure center. It first surfaced in the Indian city of Calcutta from the mind of an Englishman.
While serving as President of the Marine Court of Calcutta, Henry Piddington, a former sea captain, studied the stormy weather of the Indian Ocean. He had particularly focused on the devastating tropical storm of December 1789 that inundated the coastal town of Coringa with three monstrous storm waves that killed more than 20,000.
In a presentation to the Asiatic Society of Bengal around 1840, Piddington described that 1789 storm as a "cyclone," a term derived from the Greek word "kyklon" which means moving in a circle, like the "coil of the snake." Piddington introduced the word to mariners in his 1848 book The Sailor's Horn-Book for the Law of Storms whose purpose was to explain to seaman the theory and practical use of the Law of Storms. "I suggest that we might, for all this last class of circular or highly curved winds, adopt the term 'Cyclone' from the Greek kyklos (which signifies amongst other things the coil of a snake) as expressing sufficiently the tendency to circular motion in these meteors."
In the book, he warned sailors that the storms in the Bay of Bengal blew with consistently-changing, counterclockwise winds. The book included transparent storm cards with wind arrows for use by the captain to chart a course toward safer waters by sailing with the wind and then out of harm's way.
The term gained wide acceptance, then received a broader usage. By 1856, the term was used to describe the storms we now call tornadoes: the Kansas Cyclone of Wizard of Oz fame. In many parts of the Midwest, tornado shelters are still called cyclone cellars. In 1875, the international meteorological community adopted the term to describe a low pressure system with counterclockwise wind field. Today, only tropical storms of the Indian Ocean are still called Cyclones.
Learn More From These Relevant Books
To Purchase Notecard,
Now Available! Order Today!
The BC Weather Book: