RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As people are bracing and preparing for Idalia, officials explain why hurricane names beginning with the letter “I” seem to leave more of an impact. Since the 1950s, 96 names have been retired.
Hurricanes with the letter “I” make up the majority of the list and Idalia could be next to retire.
“The use of easily remembered names greatly reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms occur at the same time,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), names are also assigned to help communicate warnings and risks storms may create.
Hurricane names repeat every six years. But according to the National Hurricane Center, when a hurricane is categorized as deadly or destructive, that’s when the name gets retired for sensitivity reasons.
The most recent “I” hurricane name to be retired was Hurricane Ian in 2022. The category 4 hurricane caused more than 150 deaths. Ian also proved to be the most costly in Florida’s history with over $115 billion in damages.
A notable name to retire in 1966 was Hurricane Inez, which resulted in around 300 deaths. Other disastrous hurricane names to retire include Ike, Ivan, and Ida. There were 103 deaths in Ike in 2008, 100 deaths during Ivan in 2004 and 100 deaths during Ida in 2021.
So why do hurricanes starting with the letter “I” seem more impactful than others?
Hurricane season goes from June to the end of November. Those beginning with “I” tend to form during or near the peak of hurricane season, from August to the end of September.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), weather patterns and conditions, such as warm ocean temperatures and high-altitude winds make it easier for hurricanes to develop. These weather patterns are typically in their prime during mid September. That’s also when “I” is typically reached on the alphabetical list of storm names.
To read more on the impact hurricanes beginning with the letter “I” have had and to see a full list of retired names, visit Tropical Cyclone Naming History and Retired Names (noaa.gov).