Why Dorian won't be retired as a hurricane name this year

Kimberly Miller, The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. on

Published in Weather News

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Hurricane Dorian razed the northern Bahamas, splintering homes and feeding them to the sea before turning its fury on North Carolina, where it made landfall Sept. 6 as a Category 1 cyclone.

But Dorian's name won't be retired this year as is the tradition with deeply devastating storms because the group that oversees the master catalog of monikers has been sidelined by the coronavirus.

The World Meteorological Organization, keeper of the six-year rotating list of cyclone names, was scheduled to meet in Panama last month with an agenda that annually includes requests from countries to retire hurricane names that caused significant damage or deaths. The WMO meeting was cut short, held by video conference, with no room for retirement pleas.

Instead, Dorian's retirement will be considered in the spring of 2021, along with any names needing to be abolished from the 2020 hurricane season.

"The idea is that the name itself is psychologically associated with that particularly destructive event, and is not just a name anymore," said Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate with the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, about why names are retired. "We can safely assume the name Dorian will never be used again."

Even without banishment this year, Dorian wouldn't be used again until 2025.


But it's not the only 2019 tropical system that may see a retirement.

"I expect Tropical Storm Imelda will get its name retired," said Jeff Masters, Weather Underground cofounder and a meteorologist for Scientific American. "With damages estimated at $5 billion, it certainly would qualify."

Imelda was a short-lived tropical storm that formed just 20 nautical miles south-southwest of Freeport, Texas on Sept 17. It quickly weakened into a depression after landfall, but a steady feed of tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico produced widespread rainfall amounts of greater than 30 inches. The highest rainfall was 44.29 inches recorded 2 miles south-southwest of Fannett, Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

That peak rainfall amount made Imelda the seventh wettest tropical cyclone to impact the United States. The system's wind speed never topped 46 mph.


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