We can say goodbye to Erika, Joaquin and Patricia as potential names for future tropical storms or hurricanes in the North Atlantic or eastern North Pacific, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. .
The names of those three 2015 systems are being retired, per an announcement from the World Meteorological Organization. That’s the United Nations agency that, among other mandates, is in charge of the tropical storm-dubbing process, which includes overseeing the name lists that are recycled every six years.
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If a storm is “so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive,” that name is retired from its list and replaced by another, NOAA said in its statement Monday.
But don’t start lobbying the meteorological organization to offer up your name or that of a friend — or enemy.
It’s already been determined that when 2021 rolls around, Elsa will replace Erika and Julian will replace Joaquin on the Atlantic list of names, and Pamela will appear instead of Patricia on the eastern North Pacific list.
Of the three storms, Joaquin — which reached Category 4 hurricane level, with 5 being the strongest — was the only system that had much of a chance of impacting Long Island. For a tense day or so around Oct. 1, one of Joaquin’s many projected routes headed it toward the Northeast coast, according to certain forecasting models. Instead, the storm veered well out to sea.
It did do damage in the central and southeastern Bahamas, taking 34 lives, including the 33 crew members of the El Faro, a cargo ship that sank northeast of Crooked Island.
In late August, Tropical Storm Erika’s “torrential rains inflicted significant casualties and damage on the Caribbean island of Dominica,” NOAA said, and was “directly responsible for 30 deaths.”
Patricia has the honor — or dishonor — of being designated “the strongest hurricane on record in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic basins,” NOAA said.
A late October system “that intensified at a rate rarely observed in a tropical cyclone,” Patricia became a Category 5 hurricane over waters south of Mexico, weakening significantly before making landfall on a “sparsely populated” coastal area of southwestern Mexico.
“While Patricia took the lives of two people, and its core struck a sparsely populated area, it is known for its wind speed of 215 mph — the highest on record in the Western Hemisphere,” a National Hurricane Center spokesman said in an email. Other records include those for the lowest air pressure in the Western Hemisphere and for its one-day intensification of 105 knots, he said.
Other recently retired names that might ring a bell include Sandy, 2012; Irene, 2011; and Katrina, 2005.
As predicted, last year’s Atlantic hurricane season ended up with below-average activity. This year’s outlook is slated to be issued May 27 by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Names of any storms that do form this year, of course, have already been determined and can be found on the National Hurricane Center’s site: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie and Walter.
The metrological organization said that storm names in various parts of the world are chosen with an eye to what’s familiar to people in particular regions. They are not named with any individuals in mind.