The World Meteorological Organization Hurricane Committee has retired Fiona and Ian from the rotating lists of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the death and destruction they caused in Central America, the Caribbean, the United States and Canada.
Farrah will be used to replace Fiona in the lists of names, while Idris will replace Ian.
WMO uses lists of names to help communicate storm warnings and to alert people about potentially life-threatening risks. In this region, the names are repeated every six years, unless a storm is so deadly that its name is retired. In total, 96 names have now been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms began to be named under the current system.
The naming convention – while attracting the most public attention – is only a small part of the life-saving work of the Hurricane Committee, which focuses on operational priorities including the provision of forecasts and warnings for wind, storm surge and flooding hazards, as well as impact assessments.
Fiona was a large and powerful hurricane, which hit communities in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos. It then moved northward over the western Atlantic and struck Canada as a strong post-tropical cyclone in September 2022, bringing significant damage and loss of life along its path. The storm brought devastating freshwater flooding to Puerto Rico where it made landfall as a category 1 hurricane. The storm produced over $3 billion (U.S. dollars) in damage across the Caribbean and Canada and was responsible for 29 direct and indirect fatalities. Fiona is the costliest extreme weather event on record in Atlantic Canada.
Ian was large and powerful category 4 hurricane that struck western Cuba as a major hurricane and made landfall in southwestern Florida as a category 4 hurricane. Ian caused a devastating storm surge in southwestern Florida and is responsible for over 150 direct and indirect deaths and over $112 billion in damage in the United States, making it the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history and the third costliest in the United States.
In total, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season produced 14 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or greater, of which eight became hurricanes, with winds of 74 mph or greater. Two intensified to major hurricanes – Fiona and Ian – with winds of more than 111 mph, according to the end-of-season tally from the National Hurricane Center.
The Outer Banks and northeastern North Carolina were spared any major issues from what turned out to be an average year for tropical cyclone activity.
Locally, Tropical Storm Colin formed off the South Carolina coast on July 1, and led to a Tropical Storm Warning being issued for eastern N.C. in the early morning hours of July 2. Colin lost its tropical characteristics quickly after landfall, and its remnants sprinted over eastern North Carolina on July 3.
Hurricanes Earl and Fiona passed well offshore in September, and created large surf and dangerous rip currents along the beaches of the Outer Banks.
The combination of a stalled front off the North Carolina coast, strong high pressure to the north, and Hurricane Ian passing to the south and west on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 led to a prolonged period of wind, rain, and elevated water levels in northeastern North Carolina and along the Outer Banks.
Hatteras and Ocracoke islands experienced overwash and some rain flooding was reported in numerous locations, and a number of events were postponed or cancelled and some schools released students early or were closed altogether as a precaution.
An average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The 2022 season was quieter than 2020 and 2021, which were both so active that the regular list of rotating names was exhausted. But it takes just one landfalling storm to wreck communities and economies.
The Hurricane Committee consists of experts from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and serves North America, Central America and the Caribbean (WMO Regional Association IV). Its annual session, the first face-to-face meeting since 2019, takes place in San José, Costa Rica, from 27 to 31 March. It is hosted by the national meteorological and hydrological service of Costa Rica, which celebrates its 135th anniversary.