Ian ... Katrina ... Harvey – hurricanes that will never be forgotten… and hurricane names that will never be used again. How and why do hurricane names like these get retired?
The World Meteorological Organization, an international group of scientists, creates the list of names used to label each tropical storm and hurricane. The names are used in alphabetical order, and range nearly the entire alphabet, A to W. The same lists are recycled every six years unless a name is retired. If a storm is particularly damaging or destructive, the WMO decides if the name should not be used again. Future use of the name would be insensitive to those whose lives were altered by the storm.
Most recently in 2022 the WMO retired Hurricane Fiona after it slammed into Puerto Rico bringing widespread flash flooding to the island. The storm then survived all the way to the Canadian Maritimes, as a post tropical cyclone, the costliest for Atlantic Canada. Ian was also retired after it made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast in late September, Ian caused widespread flooding and extensive erosion along the Atlantic Coastline. Ian was responsible for 150 deaths and caused over $150 billion dollars in damage, the most expensive hurricane in Florida history and 3rd costliest in U.S. history behind Katrina and Harvey.
In the last three seasons 6 hurricane names have been retired. Because of confusion in 2020 season, the Greek alphabet will not longer be used to name hurricanes, instead an alternate list will be used. In all, 96 names have been retired by the World Meteorological Organization.