WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate have been retired as hurricane names, marking a dubious honor for the 2017 storms that were among the worst ever to lash the Caribbean and United States, the U.S. oceanic agency said on Thursday.
The World Meteorological Organization’s Atlantic regional agency pulled the names from its six-year cycle of approved storm monikers since using them again would be insensitive, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
The names will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel, which will first appear in the 2023 approved list of storm names, the agency said in a statement.
With the four new retirees, there have been 86 names pulled from the Atlantic list since 1953, when storms began to be named. The 2005 hurricane season has the most retired names - five - for one season.
Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate were directly responsible for the deaths of at least 255 people and caused billions of dollars in damage, NOAA said.
Harvey, which dumped up to five feet (1.52 m) of rain on southeast Texas, and Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico and Dominica, are the second- and third-costliest storms in U.S. history, NOAA said. They trail only Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman