73ºF

2019: The year without a retired hurricane

Hurricane committee postpones considerations for name retirement due to COVID-19

Hurricane Season
Hurricane Season

ORLANDO, Fla.- – Coronavirus is having its impact on the weather world as well. It’s about this time each year that the World Meteorological Organization releases the names of the tropical systems from the previous year that will be retired, never to be used again.

We will have to wait another year, however, to find out what storms from the 2019 season will be retired. According to the WMO, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the annual week-long meeting of the WMO’s hurricane committee was canceled. Storm names instead will be considered for retirement by the hurricane committee during the spring 2021 meeting, along with any potential storm from the upcoming 2020 season.

For Atlantic hurricanes, there is a list of names to be used every six years. For example, the names we came to know in 2019 won’t be seen again until the 2025 hurricane season. The only time names on the list are changed is if a storm is so deadly, costly or noteworthy that the WMO retires that name.

In 2018, hurricanes Florence and Michael were retired. In 2024, when the 2018 names come back around, the "F" and "M" names will be replaced with Francine and Milton. All of the names used that weren’t retired, such as Alberto and Beryl, will be used again in 2024.

Several names from the 2019 list below will likely be considered for retirement by the WMO.

Tropical system names in the Atlantic basin. The highest intensity is denoted with the icon to the left of the name.
Tropical system names in the Atlantic basin. The highest intensity is denoted with the icon to the left of the name.

These are the storms from 2019 that will likely be considered by the WMO when the committee discusses in 2021.

Hurricane Dorian

The eye of major Hurricane Dorian approaching Abaco Island, Bahamas, on September 1, 2019, as seen by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite.
The eye of major Hurricane Dorian approaching Abaco Island, Bahamas, on September 1, 2019, as seen by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite. (NOAA)

This is as much of a no doubter as they come to be retired. The category 5 monster broke records for the Atlantic basin as it devastated the northern Bahamas.

Dorian made landfall on Abaco Island in the Bahamas with winds of 185 mph. Dorian brought tropical storm conditions to the east coast of Florida as made it turn north toward the Carolinas.

Tropical Storm Imelda

Car submerged in street flooded by Tropical Storm Imelda on September 19, 2019.
Car submerged in street flooded by Tropical Storm Imelda on September 19, 2019. (KPRC)

Imelda was never a hurricane and was barely a tropical storm when it made landfall in Texas. It wasn’t about the wind with Imelda, but the rain. The slow moving system dumped more than 40″ of rain in part of East Texas, making it one of the wettest tropical systems to impact the continental United States.

Only twice has a tropical storm been retired. Erika in 2015 and Allison and 2001. Erika was responsible for 30 deaths and $500 million (U.S.) in damage in Dominica. Allison, like Imelda was known for its slow movement and intense rain. Allison is also in the top 5 for wettest tropical systems in the continental U.S. dropping approximately 40 inches of rain in parts of Texas.

Hurricane Lorenzo

photo

Lorenzo was the second of two Category 5 storms in the 2019 season. Lorenzo was responsible for 19 direct deaths, all from surf and marine conditions as the storm was mainly in the open waters of the Atlantic. Moderate damage was reported in the Azores. Lorenzo will be remembered, however, for making history as the easternmost Category 5 storm on record in the Atlantic.

Again, we’ll officially have to wait until the spring of 2021 to find the names deemed worthy for retirement by the World Meteorological Society.


About the Author: