The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced yesterday that it is retiring Florence and Michael from the rotating list of Atlantic storm names after the 2018 storm season, which ended November 30, 2016. The names Francine and Milton will replace them the next time that cycle is used in 2024.
These two storms ravaged the United States southeast coast so much last year their names have been retired by the World Meteorological Organization’s Region IV Hurricane Committee, of which NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is a member.
Florence and Michael are the 83rd and 84th names to be removed from the Atlantic list. Storm names are retired if they were so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive.
Hurricane Florence, which hit the southeastern coast of North Carolina on September 14, caused at least 51 deaths and caused severe flooding across North and South Carolina and Virginia.
Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10 near Mexico Beach in Florida’s Panhandle as a strong Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds. Michael was the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. based on central pressure. According to NOAA, at least 45 deaths were blamed on the storm.
These names will be used for the upcoming 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
The list of names are maintained by the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. Currently, only tropical cyclones are named in an official capacity; winter storms are not. The World Meteorological Organization from the United Nations develops a list of names for each ocean basin. In the United States, the National Hurricane Center maintains lists from the WMO for Atlantic Basin and eastern Pacific basin storms. Storms that form near Hawaii come from a list managed by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Storms are named in alphabetical order each season. “It is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes are named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence,” states the WMO. “The tropical cyclone/hurricane names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region.”
Storms responsible for significant death/destruction are retired at annual WMO meetings. This is why there will never be another Katrina, Sandy, or Andrew. The WMO selects new names each year to replace the retired names. Otherwise, storm names are recycled every 6 years.
If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season’s list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season’s list of names.
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.