Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Goodbye Fiona and Ian, hello Farrah and Idris: Hurricane name lists updated

By Scott Dance Washington Post

There won’t be another Hurricane Fiona or Hurricane Ian. The World Meteorological Organization has retired those names from a rotating list of storm names.

Storm names are considered for retirement if they have a tremendous impact on life and property – and both these storms produced widespread devastation.

Ian, which formed on Sept. 23, killed 150 people and was Florida’s costliest hurricane on record, causing $112 billion in damage, according to the WMO. It was a Category 4 storm, the second highest on the scale of hurricane intensity, when it made landfall in western Cuba and then on Florida’s southwestern coast. It was the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States on record.

After forming on Sept. 14, Fiona inundated Puerto Rico with floodwaters and hit Canada as one of the country’s strongest post-tropical cyclones on record, killing 29 people and causing more than $3 billion in damage, according to the WMO.

Both Fiona and Ian struck in late September as the Atlantic hurricane season hit a later-than-expected peak. The presence of the global climate pattern La Niña, known for conditions that promote tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic, had prompted predictions of a busier-than-average storm season, but then not a single storm formed in August. Fiona marked the start of an active stretch that ended in November with Hurricane Nicole, which struck near Vero Beach, Florida, becoming the second-latest landfalling hurricane in the United States on record.

From the season’s June 1 start to its Nov. 30 conclusion, 14 named storms formed in the Atlantic – which is exactly average.

This is the sixth time in the past eight years that at least two names were retired from the WMO’s lists in a single year. Other recently retired names include Ida, Laura, Eta and Iota. (Greek letters were previously used once all 21 names on that year’s list had been used; now an alternative set of names is employed if the initial 21 are exhausted.)

Ian first appeared on the storm names list in 2016, replacing Igor, a storm that struck Newfoundland in 2010. Fiona was added in 2010, in place of Frances, which struck the Bahamas and eastern Florida in 2004, also delivering heavy rain to Georgia and the Carolinas.

Fiona and Ian join a list of 94 other storm names the organization has retired to avoid any confusion between future cyclones and the two deadliest and most devastating tropical systems of 2022. In the Atlantic basin, there are six lists of storm names that meteorologists rotate through each year.

Storms beginning with the letter “I” have been retired the most by far – Ian is the 13th. The others were: Ione ’55, Inez ’66, Iris 2001, Isidore ’02, Isabel ’03, Ivan ’04, Ike ’08, Igor ’10, Irene ’11, Ingrid ’13, Irma ’17 and Ida ’21.

Come 2028, the sixth and ninth tropical cyclones of the season will instead be named Farrah and Idris.

The storm names come from a WMO committee composed of meteorology and hydrology experts from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Official storm naming began in 1953 to ease communication around storm warnings and thus protect lives and property from life-threatening conditions.

Predictions for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which starts June 1, will begin coming out in the next several weeks. Forecasters are predicting the probable development of the El Niño climate pattern, which tends to somewhat reduce Atlantic hurricane activity.