Fiona, Ian retired from UN list of Atlantic hurricane names

Hurricane Fiona was the costliest weather event on record in Atlantic Canada, while Ian was the third most devastating in the US.

A view of the destroyed road between Matlacha and Pine Island after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction in Matlacha, Florida, U.S., October 2, 2022.
The destroyed road between Matlacha and Pine Island after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction in Matlacha, Florida, US, on October 2, 2022 [File: Marco Bello/ Reuters]

The death and destruction caused by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian in North and Central America last year have prompted the United Nations to retire those names from a rotating list of storm titles.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday that “Farrah” would replace “Fiona”, while “Idris” would replace “Ian”.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30 and storms – also known as tropical cyclones – are named to make them easier to identify in warning messages.

They are assigned alternating male and female names in alphabetical order. The names are reused every six years, though if any hurricane is particularly devastating, its name is retired.

In total, 96 names have been retired from the hurricane list since the system was first put in place in 1953, the WMO said.

Fiona was a large, powerful and destructive category 4 Atlantic hurricane, which hit communities in the Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, before striking Canada as a strong post-tropical cyclone in mid-September last year.

It was the costliest extreme weather event on record in Atlantic Canada, according to the UN agency. It left 29 people dead and caused more than $3bn in damages there and across the Caribbean.

Ian arrived only days later, first slamming into Cuba before hitting the US as a category 4 hurricane, and was one of the most powerful ever in that country.

It caused more than 150 deaths in the US, almost all in Florida, where it made landfall on September 28.

Ian, which caused more than $112bn in damages, was the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history and the third costliest in the US.

Ian flattened whole neighbourhoods and knocked out power for millions of people. Storm surges and immense downpours left even inland neighbourhoods submerged.

The WMO said there are dozens of named tropical cyclones each year globally, which over the past half-century have on average killed 43 people and caused $78m in losses every day.

And the situation is worsening as a result of climate change, with scientists saying the Earth’s warming surface temperature is amplifying the effects of extreme weather disasters.

But the UN agency said the death toll has fallen dramatically, thanks to improvements in forecasting, warning and disaster risk-reduction efforts coordinated by WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Programme.

In total, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season produced 14 named tropical cyclones, with winds of 63km per hour (39 miles) or greater, of which eight became hurricanes.

Fiona and Ian were the only ones that intensified to major hurricanes, with winds of more than 178km per hour, according to the end-of-season tally from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Source: News Agencies