The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced this morning that it is retiring Matthew and Otto from the rotating list of Atlantic storm names after the 2016 storm season, which ended November 30, 2016. The names Martin and Owen will replace them the next time that cycle is used in 2022.
These two storms ravaged the Caribbean so much last year their names have been retired by the World Meteorological Organization’s Region IV Hurricane Committee, of which NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is a member.
Matthew and Otto are the 81st and 82nd names to be removed from the Atlantic list. Storm names are retired if they were so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive.
Matthew became a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale on the night of September 30, 2016 over the central Caribbean Sea at the lowest latitude ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. It made landfall along the coast of southwestern Haiti, extreme eastern Cuba, western Grand Bahama Island and central South Carolina. Matthew was responsible for 585 direct deaths, with more than 500 deaths occurring in Haiti, making it the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in 2005.
Otto was a late-season tropical cyclone, cutting a swath through the southwestern Caribbean Sea beginning on November 20, 2016. It intensified rapidly to a category 3 hurricane before making landfall in southern Nicaragua. It crossed from the Atlantic and into the eastern Pacific Ocean, rare for a tropical cyclone, when it moved across southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica and emerged over the far eastern North Pacific as a tropical storm. Heavy rainfall and flooding from the hurricane caused 18 fatalities in Central America.
These names will be used for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
The list of names are maintained by the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. Currently, only tropical cyclones are named in an official capacity; winter storms are not. The World Meteorological Organization from the United Nations develops a list of names for each ocean basin. In the United States, the National Hurricane Center maintains lists from the WMO for Atlantic Basin and eastern Pacific basin storms. Storms that form near Hawaii come from a list managed by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Storms are named in alphabetical order each season. “It is important to note that tropical cyclones/hurricanes are named neither after any particular person, nor with any preference in alphabetical sequence,” states the WMO. “The tropical cyclone/hurricane names selected are those that are familiar to the people in each region.”
Storms responsible for significant death/destruction are retired at annual WMO meetings. This is why there will never be another Katrina, Sandy, or Andrew. The WMO selects new names each year to replace the retired names. Otherwise, storm names are recycled every 6 years.
If a storm forms in the off-season, it will take the next name in the list based on the current calendar date. For example, if a tropical cyclone formed on December 28th, it would take the name from the previous season’s list of names. If a storm formed in February, it would be named from the subsequent season’s list of names.
In the event that more than twenty-one named tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet.