The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hurricane Committee has removed Fiona and Ian from the rolling lists of Atlantic tropical storm names due to the death and devastation they caused in Central America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada.
According to the WMO, Farrah will be used to substitute Fiona in the roster of names, while Idris will replace Ian.
WMO employs name lists to help convey storm alerts and to caution people about possibly life-threatening dangers. Unless a storm is so deadly that its name ceases to exist, the names are recycled every six years. Since 1953, 96 names have been removed from the Atlantic region roster.
Since 1953, when cyclones started to be named under the present method, 96 names have been dropped from the Atlantic region roster.
The naming convention – whilst attracting the most public attention – is only a small part of the life-saving work of the Hurricane Committee, which focuses on operational priorities including the provision of forecasts and warnings for wind, storm surge and flooding hazards, as well as impact assessments.
“Fiona was a large and powerful hurricane, which hit communities in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos. It then moved northward over the western Atlantic and struck Canada as a strong post-tropical cyclone in September 2022, bringing significant damage and loss of life along its path.
“The storm brought devastating freshwater flooding to Puerto Rico where it made landfall as a category 1 hurricane. The storm produced over $3 billion (U.S. dollars) in damage across the Caribbean and Canada and was responsible for 29 direct and indirect fatalities. Fiona is the costliest extreme weather event on record in Atlantic Canada,” the statement said.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, Ian was a large and powerful category 4 hurricane that struck western Cuba as a major hurricane and made landfall in southwestern Florida as a category 4 hurricane, causing a devastating storm surge, responsible for over 150 direct and indirect deaths and over US$112 billion in damage in the United States, making it the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history and the third costliest in the United States.
The Hurricane Committee, which covers North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, is made up of specialists from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (WMO Regional Association IV). Its yearly conference, the first face-to-face meeting since 2019, will be held from March 27 to 31 in San José, Costa Rica hosted by Costa Rica’s national meteorological and hydrological agency, which is celebrating its 135th jubilee.
During an average Atlantic hurricane season, 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three significant hurricanes form. The 2022 season was less active than the previous two, which were both so busy that the normal roster of changing names was exhausted.
The season was busy in the eastern Pacific basin; with 17 storms named (the average is 15). Ten of them became hurricanes, four of which developed into hurricanes.
In 2022, four hurricanes made impact along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Kay made impact in the Baja California Peninsula in September, while Agatha made landfall in southern Mexico in May. In late September and October, Orlene and Roslyn made impact in southern Mexico, respectively.
Tropical cyclones are major killers and a single storm can reverse years of socioeconomic development. The death toll has fallen dramatically thanks to improvements in forecasting, warning and disaster risk reduction. But we can do even better,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“The UN Early Warnings for All initiative seeks to ensure that everyone has access to warnings of life-threatening winds, storm surge and rainfall in the next five years, especially in Small Island Developing States which are on the frontlines of climate change,” he said.
According to WMO data from 1970 to 2019, tropical cyclones caused an average of 43 deaths and US$ 78 million in losses per day, accounting for one-third of all deaths and economic losses from weather-, climate-, and water-related catastrophes.
However, the death toll has dropped drastically over the last 50 years, due to advances in forecasting, warning, and disaster risk reduction managed by the World Meteorological Organization’s Tropical Cyclone Programme.
The Hurricane Committee will hold a high-level panel on Hurricane Early Warnings for All as part of the events to launch the Early Warnings for All project. Its goal is to guarantee that storm warnings are comprehended and acted upon by the most susceptible and exposed people in the framework of catastrophe resilience.
“The WMO Hurricane Committee’s work is critical to keeping our nations coordinated well before the next storm threatens. Impacts from a single storm can affect multiple countries, so it is vital we have a plan, coordinate our efforts, and share challenges and best practices”, said Jamie Rhome, acting Hurricane Committee Chair and acting Director of the WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Center Miami/US National Hurricane Center.
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