Names of destructive 2017 storms retired

WMO retires hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate

When a storm is "so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive" its name is retired from the World Meteorological Organization's repeating 6 year list.

In early October, flooding from then-Tropical Storm Nate claimed 44 lives in Central America. Harvey cost about $125 billion, the second costliest hurricane in USA history - right behind Katrina.

Irma lashed the Caribbean and the US, making seven separate landfalls as it tore across the islands and the Southeast US. The organisation will replace Harvey with Harold, Irma with Idalia, and Maria with Margot.

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. Irma contributed to 129 deaths, while Maria killed 31 people in Dominica and 65 in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Nate was a tropical storm that strengthened to category 1 hurricane status. The 2005 hurricane season has the most retired names (five) for one season. At least 68 people died from the storm in Texas.

Irma was only used once after replacing Irene, which was retired from the list after the 2011 hurricane season, but Irma was also used prior to the current 6-year rotation of storm names.

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Due to the extensive damage caused in the United States and Caribbean past year, the World Meteorological Organization's Region IV Hurricane Committee has officially retired these names.

Unless a name is retired, the exact same list of names is used again six years later.

Life in Puerto Rico is still far from normal after a worst-case scenario strike from Hurricane Maria in mid-September.

The practice of naming Atlantic hurricanes dates back to the 1950s, though only female names were used between 1953 and 1978.

In all, 86 hurricane names have now been retired. The names alternate between male and female. Many agree that appending names to storms makes it easier for the media to report on tropical cyclones, heightens interest in warnings and increases community preparedness.

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