Retiring Names Of The Worst Hurricanes

By Chris Cappella, USA TODAY Information Network 

When a really great athlete decides to leave sports, his jersey or number is often retired. The largest and most destructive storm in the tropics - the hurricane - makes a similar farewell. Hurricane names can and do get retired, not to be reused for at least ten years, perhaps longer. 

Hurricanes that cause severe damage or kill and injure many people are remembered for generations and some go into hurricane history, says the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The country most affected can request that the storm's name be removed from use to avoid confusion caused by a future storm having the same name. 

When a storm name is retired from the Atlantic's list of names, member countries of the World Meteorological Organization from that region select a new name. For Atlantic storms the name can be either French, Spanish or English, reflecting the languages of potential victims. 

A good example is Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Hugo roared across the northeast Caribbean devastating many of the small islands east of Puerto Rico. It then skimmed Puerto Rico before slamming into South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo caused more than $8 billion damage and killed 82 people. Most of the deaths occurred on the tiny Caribbean islands. When the request was made to retire the name "Hugo" from the list of names, the "H" storm was replaced by the name "Humberto", a Spanish name. Humberto was used for the first time in 1995 - it became a hurricane in September with 105 mph winds. The storm stayed over the Atlantic, never threatening land. 

The hurricane center says the "retirement rule" once had exceptions. Before 1979, when rotation of the permanent six-year storm list began, some storm names were simply not used anymore. In 1966, "Frieda" was replaced by "Fern" for no apparent reason. 

Below is a list of deadly, costly and destructive storms whose names have been retired, guaranteeing them a place in hurricane history. This is not a complete list of deadly or destructive hurricanes since many such storms hit before 1950 when naming began. 

*Affecting Louisiana
Name Year Location(s) affected
Agnes 1972 Florida, Northeast U.S.
Alicia 1983 North Texas
Allen 1980 Antilles, Mexico, South Texas
Andrew 1992 Bahamas, South Florida, Louisiana
Anita 1977 Mexico
Audrey 1957 Louisiana, North Texas
Betsy 1965 Bahamas, Southeast Florida, Southeast Louisiana
Beulah 1967 Antilles, Mexico, South Texas
Bob 1991 North Carolina, Northeast U.S.
Camille 1969 Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama
Carla 1961 Texas
Carmen 1974 Mexico, central Louisiana
Carol* 1954 Northeast U.S.
Celia 1970 South Texas
Cesar 1996 Central America
Cleo 1964 Lesser Antilles, Haiti, Cuba, Southeast Florida
Connie 1955 North Carolina
David 1979 Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola, Florida, Eastern U.S.
Diana 1990 Mexico
Diane 1955 Mid-Atlantic U.S., Northeast U.S.
Donna 1960 Bahamas, Florida, Eastern U.S.
Dora 1964 Northeast Florida
Elena 1985 Mississippi, Alabama, Western Florida
Eloise 1975 Antilles, Northwest Florida, Alabama
Flora 1963 Haiti, Cuba
Fran 1996 North Carolina, mid-Atlantic U.S.
Frederic 1979 Alabama, Mississippi
Gilbert 1988 Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Gloria 1985 North Carolina, Northeast U.S.
Hattie 1961 Belize,Guatemala
Hazel 1954 Antilles, North and South Carolina
Hilda 1964 Louisiana
Hortense 1996 Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
Hugo 1989 Antilles, South Carolina
Ione 1955 North Carolina
Inez 1966 Lesser Antilles, Hispaniola, Cuba, Florida Keys, 
Janet 1955 Lesser Antilles, Belize, Mexico
Joan 1988 Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua
[Crossed into the Pacific Ocean, becoming
Klaus 1990 Martinique
Luis 1995 Barbuda, St. Martin
Marilyn 1995 St. Thomas 
Opal 1995 Northwest Florida, Alabama 
Roxanne 1995 Yucatan Peninsula

The name "Carol" was used again to denote a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic Ocean in 1965. However, because the name does not appear after that time, it is assumed that the name was retired retrospectively for the damages caused by the 1954 storm of the same name.