USA TODAY’s drone fleet shows the devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
Maureen Kenyon and Ricardo Rolon, TC PALM
The names of last year’s two monster hurricanes – Florence and Michael – will never be used again after they were officially “retired” Thursday.
The storms killed nearly 100 people and caused about $50 billion in damage from Florida north to Virginia last year, The two names have now been retired by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The meteorological organization retired the two names from its rotating list used for hurricanes and tropical storms due to the death and destruction the storms caused.
According to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wednesday, Florence caused at least 51 deaths in September amid record flooding across the Carolinas and Virginia.
Michael made landfall in October with 155-mph winds. The hurricane was blamed for at least 45 deaths from Florida’s Panhandle through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
The WMO reuses storm names every six years in lists for the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins. The nation hardest hit by a storm can request its name be removed because the storm was so deadly or costly that future use of the name would be insensitive.
The removal also avoids confusion caused by a future storm having the same name. In 2005, five storm names, including Katrina, were retired – the most for a single season.
The list from 2018 will be used again in 2024. The organization will replace Florence with Francine and Michael with Milton.
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 – with Andrea.
In all, 88 hurricane names have now been retired. When a storm name is retired from the Atlantic’s list of names, member countries of the meteorological organization from that region select a new name. For Atlantic storms, the name can be French, Spanish or English, reflecting the languages of residents of countries that could be hit by a hurricane.
In 1953, the U.S. began using female names for hurricanes and, by 1979, male and female names were used. The names alternate between male and female.
There are no Q, U, X, Y or Z names because of the lack of usable names that begin with those letters. If more than 21 storms form in one season, such as in 2005, the Greek alphabet is used to name the additional storms.
There are also separate lists for typhoons in the western Pacific and tropical cyclones in Australia and the Indian Ocean.
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