Names of 2017's most costly hurricanes have been retired. Here's why

Hurricane Harvey

Four of last season's hurricanes were deemed so destructive and deadly that the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization has made a decision to retire their names.

Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate were such destructive hurricanes in 2017, the World Meteorological Organization is retiring their names. The nation hardest hit by a storm can request its name be removed because the storm was so deadly or costly that future use of the name would be insensitive. The WMO has a rotating list of names for each Tropical Cyclone basin, such as the Atlantic or Eastern North Pacific.

The retired names will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel and will make their debut during the 2023 hurricane season. The hurricanes killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage - more than $250 billion in just the USA, according to WMO.

Seventeen tropical storms formed in 2017, with 10 becoming hurricanes, six of which reached major hurricane strength (Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Maria, Ophelia). Harvey cost about $125 billion, the second costliest hurricane in USA history - right behind Katrina.

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Hurricane Irma, which peaked as a Category 5 hurricane, made landfall seven times and hit islands in the northern Caribbean and Florida in early September.

It's too early to know exactly what will transpire during the hurricane season that runs from June 1 to November 30, but a handful of outlooks released this spring predict more than the average number of storms.

The 2005 season set the record with five hurricane names retired: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma. Irma caused 44 direct deaths as a result of its strong winds, heavy rain and high surf. Maria killed 31 in Dominica and 65 in Puerto Rico.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association estimates that the damage caused by Maria places it at No. 3 - right behind Harvey and Katrina. The storm was blamed for at least 100 direct deaths between Dominica and Puerto Rico, but the number of indirect deaths due to the massive disruption is still unknown. But its rainfall brought flooding and mudslides that caused 44 deaths in Central America.

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