Paloma retired

The Cayman Islands won’t have to worry about getting hit by another Hurricane Paloma after the World Meteorological Oraganization retired the name from the Atlantic basin storm list last week.

The announcement of the name retirement came in a press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 1 May.

Paloma reached hurricane intensity on 6 November 2008 and appeared heading for a direct hit on Grand Cayman on 8 November. The hurricane shifted slightly east at the last minute, giving Grand Cayman only a glancing blow. However, the jog to the east put Cayman Brac and Little Cayman directly in the storm’s path, and it caused extensive damage to the Sister Islands.

After taking its toll on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the Category 4 hurricane destroyed 1,400 homes on Cuba, causing US$300 million in damage in that country, the NOAA release stated.

In addition to Paloma, the World Meteorological Organization retired the names Gustav and Ike. Gustav became a Category 4 hurricane and killed 112 people and caused more than $4 billion damage in Louisiana alone.

Ike was also a Category 4 hurricane. It killed at least 80 people across the Caribbean and at least another 20 in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. The damage caused by Ike in the US alone is estimated at $19.3 billion, the NOAA press release stated.

In the eastern North Pacific region, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Alma. Although it only reached tropical storm strength, Alma became the first tropical cyclone to make landfall along the Pacific coast of Central America since records began in 1949. The late May storm was responsible for two deaths and the destruction of thousands of homes.

Hurricane names in the Atlantic basin are on a six-year rotation. The World Meteorological Organization retires names if the storms cause deaths or extensive damage.

Had the names not been retired, they would have been used again in 2014. The names have been replaced by Gonzalo, Isaias and Paulette.