WMO retires hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate

Posted April 13, 2018

When a storm is "so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive" its name is retired from the World Meteorological Organization's repeating 6 year list. However, if a storm gains notoriety because of its strength, number of deaths or damage, the WMO may retire that name from future use.

Eighty-six names have been retired from the Atlantic basin since 1954, when forecasters first began naming storms. The 2005 hurricane season has the most retired names (five) for one season.

Irma caused seven direct deaths in the US and 85 indirect deaths, 80 of which were in Florida, according to the WMO.

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WMO maintains rotating lists of names, which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin.

Hurricane Maria, with winds of 172 miles per hour at its height, ravaged the island of Dominica as a Category 5 on September 19 and later devastated Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, producing catastrophic damage to the USA territory.

The World Meteorological Organization also retired Nate, a hurricane that hit central America as a tropical storm, killing dozens, then hit the U.S. Gulf Coast. They will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

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Ten hurricanes tore through the Atlantic in 2017. Some estimates place Harvey ahead of Hurricane Katrina in damages - about $180 billion. The death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico is 65, but because the island still lacks power, the number of indirect deaths is hard to calculate. The storm did around $800 million in damage and killed 45 people in Central America and the United States. These will be included on the 2023 list of storm names. At least nine other people are missing in the region.

The 2005 season holds the record for the most names retired because of the devastation they caused.

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