Is your name Sara or Joyce, maybe you are Florence or Valerie? How about Gordon, Isaac, Michael or William? No, they are not the lastest top baby names, but they are all on the list of this year’s 21 Atlantic Hurricane names (Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used).
The Atlantic Hurricane season officially starts on 1 June and The National Hurricane Center recently released this year’s list. The names are rotated every six years, though if a storm has been particularly destructive or costly, the name will be retired, and a new name chosen for that letter.
Four of last years names have been retired: the devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and Tropical Storm Nate and will be replaced in 2023 by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.
We were in Guanaja, an island in the Bay of Honduras, last year during the hurricane season. We weren’t in the path of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, but Nate skirted 200 miles off the island and just hit us as a strong wind. But even so, we were prepared and the house we were in had hurricane shutters and all the animals were herded in and furniture moved off the verandah.
The islanders on Guanaja take hurricanes very seriously. In late October 1998, Hurricane Mitch hovered over the island for two days, ripping up the pine trees, devastating the mangroves and sucking up the soil, destroying boats and smashing homes. Guanaja, a once lush island with thriving a tourist industry was left was barren. The island’s economy is still recovering 20 years later.
The Weather Company is expecting 11 named storms during the 2018 season, including four hurricanes and two major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher intensity. This is slightly lower than in 2017 which ended up with a total of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.
From 1 June to November 30 there can be many storms which have little impact on the U.S. coast and islands, only one or two hurricanes actually make landfall in the U.S. There also can be many storms and hurricanes which cause major damage like we saw happen to Anguilla, Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Maarten/Martin and the British Virgin Islands last year.
As I am visiting the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Guanaja, let’s hope that this hurricane season is not as destructive and devastating as 2017.
The sequence of hurricane names for 2018 are: