Home Emergency Management News World Meteorological Organization Retires Storm Names

World Meteorological Organization Retires Storm Names


Erika, Joaquin, and Patricia will no longer be used

In professional sports, athletes who put together highly productive careers will often get their numbers retired by their respective teams in honor of their careers. When it comes to powerful storms, it's the worst ones that grab the headlines and head off to retirement.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced this week that three storm names will no longer be used for future weather events: Erika, Joaquin, and Patricia. The WMO runs through a cycle where it reuses names the every of storms in both the Atlantic basin and the eastern North Pacific basin every six years. However, if a particular storm brings significant amounts of death and/or destruction, the organization removes that name for future use. The 2015 lists will be reused in 2021, but with those three omissions.

Patricia will be removed from the list of names used in the North Pacific region, and is the 13th name removed from the Pacific list. Erika and Joaquin will be the 79th and 80th names omitted from the Atlantic list. Gustav, Katrina, and Sandy are some recent examples of other names removed from the Atlantic list. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the climatology of the Pacific basin pushes many hurricanes away from the shore, which can help to explain the smaller relative number of extremely devastating hurricanes in that region.

Tropical Storm Erika

Tropical Storm Erika devastated the Commonwealth of Dominica in August 2015, causing the most deaths since Hurricane David hit the area in 1979. More than a foot of rain fell in Dominica due to Erika, causing at least 30 deaths. Erika also caused destruction in Puerto Rico, Haiti, and other nearby regions. The WMO will replace Erica with the name Elsa the next time the 2015 list of names will be used, in 2021.

Hurricane Joaquin

Hurricane Joaquin, an intense tropical cyclone, devastated the Bahamas and other nearby islands -- Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador -- in late September and into early October 2015. Joaquin ultimately became a Category 4 major hurricane in early October and was responsible for at least 34 deaths. According to the NOAA, Joaquin is the strongest October hurricane to strike the Bahamas since 1866. The WMO replaced Joaquin with the name Julian for use in 2021 and other future cycles.

Hurricane Patricia

Hurricane Patricia made landfall in southwestern Mexico in October 2015 and turned out to be the most powerful hurricane in the eastern North Pacific and North Atlantic basins on record. Patricia was one of the most intense and powerful tropical cyclones of all time, reportedly reaching maximum sustained winds of 215 mph. Pamela will take Patricia's spot on the name list in 2021, when the WMO will next reuse the 2015 list.


Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.