The WMO Hurricane Committee has retired Ida from the rotating list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the impact of the category 4 hurricane in 2021.
Imani will instead be used in the lists of names, which are overseen by WMO to help in the communication of storm warnings and to alert people about potentially life-threatening risks. The names are repeated every six years, unless a storm is so deadly that its name is retired – as in the case of Ida. In total, 94 names have now been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms began to be named under the current system.
The Hurricane Committee consists of experts from national meteorological and hydrological services and serves North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Ken Graham, Hurricane Committee chair and director of the WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Center Miami/US National Hurricane Center, said, “The RA-IV Hurricane Committee’s work is critical to keep our nations coordinated well before the next storm threatens. Impacts from a single storm can affect multiple countries, so it is critical we have a plan, coordinate our efforts, and share challenges and best practices.
“We had more category 4 and category 5 landfalls in the USA from 2017 to 2021 than from 1963 to 2016. Hurricanes don’t care about international boundaries. We need to be prepared,” he said.
Evan Thompson, president of WMO’s Regional Association for North America, Central America and the Caribbean and head of Jamaica’s national meteorological service, added, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report projects that the global proportion of tropical cyclones that reach very intense (category 4-5) levels, along with their peak winds and rainfall rates, are expected to increase with climate warming. Developing countries and small islands are on the frontlines. Accurate early warnings are no longer a luxury but a must.”
Every year, there are on average 84 named tropical cyclones all over the world. Over the past 50 years, every single day, they have caused on average 43 deaths and US$78m in losses and have also been responsible for one third of both deaths and economic losses from weather-, climate- and water-related disasters, according to WMO statistics from 1970-2019. But the death toll has fallen dramatically thanks to improvements in forecasting, warning and disaster risk reduction coordinated by WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Programme.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has tasked WMO with drawing up a plan to ensure that everyone in the world is covered by early warning systems in the next five years.