Hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate being retired

Hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate being retired

Hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate being retired

Now, those names will never be used again, after they were officially "retired" on Thursday (Friday NZT) by the World Meteorological Organisation hurricane committee.

The meteorological organisation retired the four names from its rotating list used for hurricanes and tropical storms in light of the death and destruction the storms caused past year. The nation hardest hit by a storm can request its name be removed because the storm was so deadly or costly that future use of the name would be insensitive.

Experience shows that the use of short, distinctive given names in written as well as spoken communications is quicker and less subject to error than the older more cumbersome latitude-longitude identification methods. Taking their place will be Harold, Idalia, Margot, and Nigel respectively. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. The hurricanes killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage - more than $250 billion in just the US, according to WMO.

The 2017 hurricane season featured three category 4 hurricanes making landfall, including Harvey, Irma and Maria. The meeting is chaired by Kenneth Graham, the new director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center.

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Hurricane Harvey killed 68 people in Texas alone and dumped historic amounts of rain on the city of Houston. 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. Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.

Hurricane Irma, which peaked as a Category 5 hurricane, made landfall seven times and hit islands in the northern Caribbean and Florida in early September. Maria caused 31 direct deaths with 34 missing in Dominica, and two direct deaths in Guadeloupe. The 2005 hurricane season has the most retired names for one season, with five.

"Since that fateful year, 88 names have been retired, and those beginning with "I" made up a disproportional number of them (11 of the 88)", the newspaper writes. Nate's rainfall inundated Central America and killed 45.

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