These 2017 hurricane names are being retired

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In early October, flooding from then-Tropical Storm Nate claimed 44 lives in Central America.

Goodbye and good riddance. The hurricanes killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage - more than $250 billion in just the USA, according to WMO.

Hurricane Nate crossed northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras as a tropical storm, then made landfall on the northern Gulf Coast as a category 1 hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey unleashed tremendous damage on Texas. That's a significant jump from the 12 tropical storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami identified on average between 1981-2010.

Irma lashed the Caribbean and the US, making seven separate landfalls as it tore across the islands and the Southeast US.

Hurricane Maria came next, slamming into the island of Dominica as a Category 5 storm on September 19, then wrecking havoc on Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Dominica as a category 5 on September 19, and later devastated Puerto Rico as a high-end category 4 hurricane, producing catastrophic damage to the USA territory.

In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later made a decision to identify storms using names from a list arranged alpabetically. However, if a storm gains notoriety because of its strength, number of deaths or damage, the WMO may retire that name from future use.

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Hurricane Harvey killed at least 68 people after hitting Texas last August.

The agency noted that 2017 Atlantic season was both extremely active and one of the most destructive on record.

The committee also selected the replacement names as Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

That is likely because the wide scale of the death and destruction from the hurricanes retired after the 2004 season - Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne - far exceeded the very localized severity of Gaston.

Unless a name is retired, the exact same list of names is used again six years later. For Atlantic storms, the name can be French, Spanish or English, reflecting the languages of residents of countries that could be impacted by a hurricane. Before the end of the 1900's, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1979, men's names were introduced and they alternate with the women's names.

There are no Q, U, X, Y or Z names, due to the lack of usable names that begin with those letters.

The 2005 season has the most retired names at five.

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