After Deadly Storms, Agency Retires 4 Hurricane Names

Harvey Irma Maria retired as Atlantic storm names

Harvey Irma Maria retired as Atlantic storm names

The hurricanes killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage - more than $250 billion in just the USA, according to WMO.

The decision was made by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) due to the extensive death and destruction caused by these hurricanes in the Caribbean, Central America, and United States.

The World Meteorological Organization has retired four names after the 2017 season. Otherwise names are reused on a six-year cycle. The names selected as replacements for possible use in 2023 are: Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. However, if a storm gains notoriety because of its strength, number of deaths or damage, the WMO may retire that name from future use.

September was also the busiest month on record, in terms of ACE, for any tropical cyclone basin worldwide since more reliable records began in the early 1970s. Harvey is the second-costliest hurricane in USA history (after inflation), behind only Katrina in 2005. If a hurricane is especially fatal and causes significant damage, its name is taken off the rotation and replaced with a different one. Irma and Maria both reached Category 5 storms when they made landfall on the Caribbean islands.


Nate caused over $700 million of damage. For Atlantic storms, the name can be French, Spanish or English, reflecting the languages of residents of countries that could be impacted by a hurricane.

In all, 86 hurricane names have now been retired. It weakened slightly to category 4 before devastating Puerto Rico and knocking out the island's power grid. "Maria caused 31 direct deaths with 34 missing in Dominica, and two direct deaths in Guadeloupe", says NOAA. In Puerto Rico, the death toll stands at 65, plus an unknown number of indirect deaths. Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma were removed from the rotating list that year. Nate's rainfall inundated Central America and killed 45.

The 2017 hurricane season featured three category 4 hurricanes making landfall, including Harvey, Irma and Maria.

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