HOUSTON, Texas (KIAH) – Why do we name storms to begin with? It helps meteorologists, particularly for this time of the year, when there are many storms to track. There are times when multiple storms and hurricanes have formed at once. Naming them helps forecasters identify storms and keep track of their progress. Imagine having multiple children in your household… without each one having a name, parenting would be a nightmare! That is how meteorologists feel about their “tropical children” during the peak of hurricane season. Both male and female names are used in rotation from six different lists. All letters of the alphabet are used except Q, U, X, Y and Z. Once a hurricane is retired a new name is added in its place.
What makes a retired storm? The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee votes to retire storms based on the fatalities and destruction that they cause. This idea caters to the sensitivity of those impacted by the storm. Imagine if there was another Hurricane Katrina. Victims of that catastrophic event would be negatively triggered simply by the name.
Two-thirds of the strongest hurricanes, Category 4 or 5, impact either the Florida or Texas Gulf coast. The year 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was historic, in terms of number and strength of the storms. 2005 holds the record for most retired named storms for one Atlantic Season (Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma).
From 2000-2020, a 20-year time span. 43 storms have been retired for the Atlantic Basin.
From 1956-1999, a 43-year time span, 43 additional storms were also retired for the Atlantic Basin.
Texas storms that have been retired include:
(* Marks September Hurricanes)
*Harvey (2017) Cat 4
*Ike (2008) Cat 2
*Rita (2005) Cat 3
Allison (2001) Tropical Storm
Alicia (1983) Cat 3
Allen (1980) Cat 3
Celia (1970) Cat 3
*Beulah (1967) Cat 3
*Carla (1961) Cat 4
Audrey (1957) Cat 4
Note that even tropical storm names can be retired. It does not have to be a hurricane. Allison caused devastating flooding for the Houston area in 2001 before it was retired.