Five hurricane names retired

The World Meteorological Organisation retired a record five hurricane names from the busy 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, although Emily, the earliest forming Category 5 hurricane on record, was not one of them.

Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma all had their names retired, meaning there will never be Atlantic Basin hurricanes with those names again.

The WMO recycles six lists of 21 storm names begining with the letters A through W, with the exceptions of Q and U.

The only time there is a change in the lists is when a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on another storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity.

The five 2005 storms were officially retired at the WMO annual meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico last week. All of the storms that were retired took lives and caused major damage.

Hurricane Katrina, which reached Category 5 hurricane status, came ashore the U.S. Gulf Coast as a Category 3, and devastated the major city of New Orleans and surrounding areas through Mississippi to become the costliest – and one of the deadliest – hurricanes in U.S. history.

Katrina directly or indirectly killed more than 1,300 people and caused more than $50 billion in damages.

Hurricane Dennis threatened the Cayman Islands, especially the Sister Islands, but eventually travelled between Jamaica and Haiti before crossing Cuba as a strong Category 4 Hurricane. The storm re-emerged in the Gulf of Mexico and came ashore on the far western part of the Florida panhandle near the Alabama border as a Category 3 storm.

At least 54 deaths are directly or indirectly attributed to Dennis, including 15 in the U.S. The storm also caused more than $2 billion in damages.

Rita made landfall in extreme southwestern Louisiana as a Category 3 storm.

As it approached the Gulf Coast and the U.S. major city of Houston, Texas as one of the strongest Category 5 hurricanes on record with 180 mph winds, it provoked an estimated two million people to flee their homes, making it one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history.

The storm killed seven people directly and at least 55 indirectly while causing an estimated $10 billion in damages.

Hurricane Stan was only a Category 1 storm with it came ashore about 90 miles southeast of Veracruz, Mexico in early October. However, in combination with other weather features, Stan produced torrential rainfall in Mexico and Central America, killing an estimated 2,000 people.

Wilma formed southeast of Grand Cayman. After lingering as an area of disturbed weather for several days and then developing into a Category 1 hurricane, Wilma rapidly developed into an extremely intense Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds and a central pressure of 882 mb, the all-time lowest central pressure ever recorded for an Atlantic Basin hurricane.

Wilma caused high surf and some coastal flooding on Grand Cayman, closing the main road through Savannah for a short while.

The slow-moving Wilma devastated coastal areas of the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, including Cozumel and Cancun, as a Category 4 hurricane.

Twenty-two deaths were directly attributed to Wilma, and the Hurricane caused more than $12 billion of damages in the United States alone.

Hurricane Emily’s name, however, was not retired, even though it because the earliest storm on record to reach Category 5 intensity during a hurricane season.

Emily killed six people, and made landfalls in Grenada and in two places in Mexico, the latter close to the Texas border and caused the evacuation of more than 90,000 people.

For 2011, the next time the 2005 names will be used, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma will be replaced with Don, Katia, Rina, Sean and Whitney, respectively.

Since tropical cyclones were first named in 1953, 67 names have been retired. The five retired from the 2005 hurricane season represents the most retired storm names in a single season. There were four names retired after the 1955, 1995 and 2004 hurricane seasons.

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