Today the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced from their annual meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that five hurricane names last year's historic Atlantic season will be retired. Yes, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma are all being put to rest. Since they are now out of the typical six year rotation, none of the five names will ever be used again. Last year's recording setting season with 27 named storms and 15 hurricanes went deep into the Greek alphabet (for the first time ever), all the way to Zeta, but none of the Greek letters will be retired.
The WMO retires name both for political sensitivity, but only to maintain the storms' identity in historical and scientific records. Since these names were due up again in 2011, they have been replaced by Don, Katia, Rina, Sean and Whitney. At five names, this also sets the record for the most number of names retired from a single season (the previous record was four names from each 1955, 1995, and 2004) and brings the total number of retired names to 67 since the process began in 1953.
This year's hurricane seaosn begins on June 1 and is expected to again be an active year. This year's list of names includes: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, and William. The only new name on this list is Kirk which replaces Hurricane Keith that impacted Central America in 2000. As in the case every year, if this list is exhausted like it was last year, storms will be named using the Greek alphabet starting with Alpha.
Here is a synopsis from NOAA of the newly retired storms:
Dennis began its path of destruction in early July while passing between Jamaica and Haiti and then crossing Cuba with estimated top winds of 140 mph. After tracking north across the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Dennis came ashore on Santa Rosa Island, Fla., as a Category 3 hurricane on July 10 with top winds estimated at 120 mph. At least 54 deaths are directly or indirectly attributed to Dennis, including 15 in the U.S, most from within Florida.
Katrina became the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history with damage costs exceeding $50 billion and fatalities, directly and indirectly, topping 1,300. Katrina came ashore at Buras, La., as a Category 3 hurricane on August 29 with top winds estimated at 125 mph. Additionally, Katrina was a Category 1 hurricane when it first struck the U.S. near the Broward/Miami-Dade County line in Florida on August 24 after bringing tropical storm conditions to the northern Bahamas.
Rita made landfall in extreme southwestern Louisiana, near the Texas border, as a Category 3 hurricane with top winds of 115 mph on September 24. Rita reached Category 5 strength with top winds estimated at 180 mph over the central Gulf of Mexico, where it had the fourth-lowest central pressure on record (895 millibars) in the Atlantic Basin. Rita produced a significant storm surge that devastated coastal communities in southwestern Louisiana, and its wind, rain, and tornadoes caused fatalities and a wide swath of damage from eastern Texas to Alabama. Rita also produced storm surge flooding in parts of the Florida Keys as the storm's center passed between the Keys and Cuba en route to the Gulf Coast.
Stan, in combination with other weather features, produced torrential rainfall in Mexico and Central America where the combined death toll is estimated to be as high as 2,000. Stan first crossed Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm, then moved southwest across the Bay of Campeche and hit as a Category 1 hurricane about 90 miles southeast of Veracruz, Mexico, on October 4.
Wilma was an extremely intense Category 5 hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean Sea with estimated tops winds of 185 mph and the all-time lowest central pressure (882 millibars) for an Atlantic Basin hurricane. A slow-moving Wilma devastated coastal areas of the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico as a Category 4 hurricane. It later raced into South Florida—coming ashore near Cape Romano, Fla., at Category 3 intensity with top winds estimated at 120 mph on October 24—and inflicting extensive damage.
What are your thoughts on this? Would storms would you have retired? What names would you have used for this year or to replace last year's storms? Let us know in our messageboard thread.