HOUSTON - It hasn't happened yet but I can tell you with absolute certainty that the hurricane names "Harvey", "Irma" and "Maria" will never again be used by the National Hurricane Center to name a storm. The offending names will be retired by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) when they meet after the season has ended.
So here's the deal: names are retired when incredible, insurmountable insurance losses occur or there is an excessive death toll that would cause sensitivity issues if it were used again. Harvey, Irma and Maria meet the criteria.
Harvey is widely believed to be the most expensive hurricane in U.S. history with damages well in excess of $100 billion but the true cost may never be known. Damage tallies are based on insured losses and fewer than 20-percent of the those affected by Harvey had flood insurance according to THIS article by USA Today. Everybody else will be on the hook to repair it at their own expense.
Harvey's death toll has also tallied 82 people according to the Washington Post as of September 14th.
Hurricane Irma will also be axed from the list of revolving names adding to an impressive list of "I" storms that have been retired over the years. In fact the "I" storm is the most retired of all the letters. More on that in a moment.
Hurricane Irma decimated several islands in the northern Leewards. Barbuda, according to some reports, is uninhabitable for the first time in 300 years according to CNN. Nearly every single building on that island was destroyed.
Sint Maarten, both dutch and french sides, faced nearly the same fate as its neighbor Barbuda. Thousands of people were left homeless without even the basic essentials of life.
At last check Irma's death toll had risen to 75 people and may cost upwards of $65 billion in damage according to the Miami Herald.
By comparison nine years ago, Hurricane Ike, then the costliest Texas storm in history, caused approximately $26 billion in insured losses. Ike was retired, too.
Finally, Hurricane Maria, still an active hurricane as of this entry, will also likely be scratched from the list of names after striking the Leeward Islands as a category 5 hurricane and Puerto Rico as a strong category 4 hurricane -- becoming the strongest hurricane to hit that island since before the Great Depression. Incredible damage was done to that island and killing at least 30 people according to the New York Daily News.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a total of 84 storms have been retired since 1954. Of those the "I" storm, including infamous names like Ivan, Ike and Irene, is the most retired letter with a total of eleven "I" names removed from the list -- including Irma.
"I" names are followed by "C" names with nine retired and "F" names with eight retired.
Since Irma was a female name, it'll be replaced by an "I" female name. The WMO will choose a name of either English, French or Spanish decent being that those are the nationalities of all countries that could be affected by an Atlantic storm.
Many other storms prior to 1950 would have been retired but storms were not named prior to this time period.
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