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Industry News

WMO retires hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate

The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Hurricane Committee has retired the names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate from its list of rotating names. They will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

In the Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific, male and female names alternate alphabetically and the lists are repeated every six years. If a hurricane is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by a different name. The four new names will be used in the 2023 season.

The extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive on record, with costs exceeding US$250bn in the USA alone; recovery for the worst-hit Caribbean islands such as Dominica may take years.

Although hundreds of people died, accurate forecasts and warnings about wind, storm surge and flooding hazards, and coordination between meteorological services and disaster management, helped prevent the casualty toll from being even higher.

Longstanding cooperation within WMO’s Regional Association for North America, Central America and the Caribbean (RA IV) meant that sophisticated forecast products and impact assessments were available to the whole region.

For the first time on record, three Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the USA (Harvey, Irma and Maria), and six Category 5 landfalls occurred across the Caribbean basin, including Irma and Maria.

Of the 17 named tropical storms that formed during 2017, 10 became hurricanes and six reached major hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale), according to a report by WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in Miami, Florida, which is under the responsibility of the US National Hurricane Center. In comparison, the 1981-2010 averages were 12 tropical storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

- April 2018

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