‘I’ hurricane names are the most likely to be retired — Ida almost certain to join them

Tracking the Tropics
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows a view of Hurricane Ida, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Forecasters warned residents along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to rush preparations Saturday ahead of an intensifying Hurricane Ida, which is expected to bring winds as high as 130 mph (209 kph), life-threatening storm surge and flooding rain when it slams ashore in Louisiana on Sunday. (NOAA via AP)

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows a view of Hurricane Ida, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Forecasters warned residents along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to rush preparations Saturday ahead of an intensifying Hurricane Ida, which is expected to bring winds as high as 130 mph (209 kph), life-threatening storm surge and flooding rain when it slams ashore in Louisiana on Sunday. (NOAA via AP)

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Will ‘Ida’ be retired from the name list of hurricanes? It’s too soon to officially say, but it’s probably a pretty safe bet.

Statistically speaking, storms featuring an ‘I’ name are the most likely to be retired. A total of 12 ‘I’ named storms have been retired since 1954, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). However, it isn’t the NHC that actually retires names. That’s done at the end of the hurricane season by the World Meteorological Organization. So, we won’t officially know if Ida is retired until the WMO announces it, which will likely happen in early 2022.

“The only time that there is a change in the (hurricane name) list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name for a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity,” states the NHC’s website. “If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.”

The WMO uses six sets of hurricane names, and they rotate through that list every year. For instance, this year’s list of names will be used again in 2027. Each list has 21 names. (There are no ‘Q,’ ‘U,’ ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ or ‘Z’ names.) The WMO first started rotating names lists in 1979.

Retiring names is actually pretty common. There are only 20 years since 1954 that have passed without a name being retired. The most names retired in a single year was in 2005 (Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma). Tied for second place (with four names retired each) are 1955, 1995, 2004, and 2017.

The following are the ‘I’ named storms retired since 1954. Louisiana residents will be familiar with a few of them (in bold):

  • Ione (1955)
  • Inez (1966)
  • Iris (2001)
  • Isidore (2002)
  • Isabel (2003)
  • Ivan (2004)
  • Ike (2008)
  • Igor (2010)
  • Irene (2011)
  • Ingrid (2013)
  • Irma (2017)
  • Iota (2020)

The NHC has a full list of retired names by year. A total of 93 names have been retired.

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