Cyclone is the name used for hurricanes in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. Gonu, like all storms in the northern hemisphere, spins counterclockwise. By contrast, because of the pull of the earth's rotation, storms in the southern hemisphere rotate clockwise.

Since 2004, cyclones in the Indian Ocean have been named, the last part of the world to take up the practice. Names are chosen from a list of 64 submitted by eight countries in the region. Only nine of the names have been used in the last three years; generally, no more than five storms hit the northern Indian Ocean each year.

Gonu, submitted by the Maldives, describes a thatched bag used to carry chickens, though the bags — and the word — are fairly rare these days.

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