With this year's hurricane season rapidly approaching, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently announced that three hurricane names from 2008 have been officially retired by the World Meteorological Organization.
Any nation that has suffered the impact of a severe hurricane can request that the WMO retire the name from the list that is cycled on a six-year basis. Once retired, the name cannot be used again for at least a 10-year period.
In addition to emotional reasons for retiring a name, there are also practical reasons for doing so. In the case of a big storm producing widespread damage, the name is often retired to eliminate confusion with other named storms while there still may be pending legal actions and property damage claims through insurance companies.
During the summer of 2004, Pine Island was affected by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. All four of names were retired as a result of the widespread damage created by the powerful and destructive storms.
Joining Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne this year are Gustav, Ike and Paloma. The names would have been used again in 2014. In their place will be Gonzalo, Isaias and Paulette.
First making landfall in Haiti, Gustav struck Cuba as a Category 4. It posed a threat to the United States and made landfall in Louisiana on Sept. 1 as a Category 2. Gustav produced strong winds, storm surge and heavy rain causing more than $4 billion in damage in the south-central region.
2008 retired hurricane names
Names were replaced with:
Another threat to southwestern states became a concern as Ike loomed in the eastern Atlantic. On Sept. 3, it struck the Leeward Islands as a Category 4. Ten days later Ike made landfall in the United States in Galveston, Texas, as a Category 2, claiming 20 lives in the states of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. The total estimated property damage in the areas amounted to $19.3 billion.
Paloma never reached the United States. However, on Nov. 7, it became the second strongest November storm in history. Paloma caused an estimated $3 million in damage and claimed more than 1,400 homes in Cuba.
In preparation for the 2009 hurricane season, the WMO is ready with its list of names for Atlantic storms this year.
Should all 21 names be used during the season, instead of returning to the top of the alphabet and using names that have been established by WMO for 2010, the subsequent storms will be identified using the Greek alphabet in the order of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on.