WMO Hurricane Committee reviews devastating 2017 season, retires names
The Hurricane Committee retired the hurricane names Harvey, Maria, Irma and Nate after the death and destruction they caused. Three exceptionally destructive hurricanes occurred in rapid succession in the North Atlantic in late August and September.
The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee met in Martinique, France, from 9 to 13 April to review the devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and to discuss regional coordination and operational planning to protect lives and property in the forthcoming one.
The Hurricane Committee retired the names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate from its list of rotating names. They will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.
WMO maintains rotating lists of names, which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin. In the Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific, male and female names alternate alphabetically and the lists are used 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. Damage costs exceeded 250 billion dollars in the United States alone, whilst recovery for the worst hit Caribbean islands such as Dominica may take years. Several hundred people died, and the lives of millions were impacted.
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 (RAIV) 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 U.S. (Harvey, Irma and Maria), and six category 5 landfalls occurred across the Caribbean basin from Irma and Maria.
Harvey, which made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, remained over or near the Texas coast for four days in late August, dropping historic amounts of rainfall of more than 60 inches over southeastern Texas and causing catastrophic flooding in major cities including Houston.
Irma remained at category 5 strength for 60 hours in early September on a trail of destruction through numerous Caribbean islands. Maria quickly intensified into a hurricane just 24 hours after it became a tropical storm and intensified into a category 5 hurricane. Maria was still a category 4 hurricane when it reached Puerto Rico as the strongest storm to hit the island since 1928 and by far the most destructive.
Hurricane Nate crossed northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras as a tropical storm, then made landfall on the northern Gulf Coast as a category 1 hurricane. It brought rainfall that caused significant impacts in Central America, where media reports indicate that these caused 44 deaths in the region.
The 2005 season holds the record for the most names retired because of the devastation they caused. Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma were removed from the rotating list that year.
Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) Consortium of the University College London released their forecast and called for a slightly-below average hurricane season, predicting 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes, due to recent anomalous cooling in the far northern and tropical Atlantic. Here is the list of this year’s North Atlantic Hurricane Names:
Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helen, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie and William.
The season will officially begin on June 1, 2018, and end on November 30, 2018.
News Source: World Meteorological Organization