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Info note No.65

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WMO Hurricane Committee Retires Igor

and Tomas from List of Atlantic Storms

GENEVA, 24 March 2011 - The World Meteorological Organization Hurricane Committee has retired two tropical cyclone names in the Atlantic from the official name rotation because of the deaths and damage they caused in 2010.

The names Igor and Tomas in the Atlantic would have appeared again in 2016 but will no longer be used. In their places will be Ian and Tobias.

The decision was taken at the WMO’s Regional Association for North America, Central America and the Caribbean’s Hurricane Committee meeting in the Cayman Islands 8-12 March 2011. The committee issues the list of potential names for tropical cyclones to be used every six years for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins.

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season was significantly more active than the 2009 season, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Centre. The active season likely resulted from very warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic between the Lesser Antilles and Africa, combined with La Niña conditions in the Pacific in 2010.  Nineteen tropical storms developed, tying 1995 for the third highest number of storms on record. Twelve of the storms became hurricanes - the second highest total on record behind the fifteen observed in 2005.  Five of the hurricanes became major hurricanes, category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  There were two additional tropical depressions.

Igor was a classic Cape Verde hurricane, reaching Category 4 strength with winds of 249 kilometers per hour on Sept. 14, while located about 966 kilometers east of the northern Leeward Islands. The storm weakened to a Category 1 hurricane when it struck Bermuda on Sept. 19. Igor made landfall on Sept. 21 near Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada. It was the most damaging hurricane on that island in 75 years. Igor killed three people along its path. Damage in Newfoundland is placed at almost US$ 200 million.

Tomas became a hurricane on October 30 shortly after striking Barbados. It strengthened to a Category 2 storm striking St. Vincent and St. Lucia, becoming the latest hurricane on record (1851-present) to strike the Windward Islands. After weakening to a tropical depression over the central Caribbean Sea, Tomas regained Category 1 strength on November 5 and moved between Jamaica and the southwest peninsula of Haiti, through the Windward Passage. It weakened just below hurricane strength before reaching the Turks and Caicos Islands. Fourteen people are confirmed as dead, or missing, on St. Lucia. Total damage there is estimated to be around US$500 million. Heavy rains associated with Tomas triggered floods and landslides in Haiti. Haiti’s Meteorological Services states that the death toll in Haiti was 35.

The 2010 Eastern North Pacific hurricane season was historically the least active season on record.  Only seven tropical storms developed, which is the lowest number observed since routine satellite reconnaissance of that basin began in 1971. Only three of those storms became hurricanes, which is also the lowest number of hurricanes ever observed in a season. Only two of the hurricanes became category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale  which was 50% of the long-term average.

Notes to Editors:

The practice of naming storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember that numbers and technical terms.

In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje's hurricane. Then the mid-1900's saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms.

In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alphabetically. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year. Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The original name lists featured only women's names. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2010 list will be used again in 2016.

The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO Tropical Cyclone Committees (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Infamous storm names such as Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.


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