April 13, 2018 4:12 pm

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

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The names of four deadly hurricanes that slammed parts of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean last year are being retired.

The World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee announced Thursday that the names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate have been removed from the list of rotating names.

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“The extremely active 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive on record,” the WMO reported. “Damage costs exceeded 250 billion dollars in the United States alone, whilst recovery for the worst hit Caribbean islands such as Dominica may take years. Several hundred people died, and the lives of millions were impacted.”

Harvey hit Texas Aug. 25, killing at least 68 people. Irma caused 44 deaths and 85 indirect deaths in the Caribbean and Florida. Maria killed 31 in Dominica and 65 in Puerto Rico. Nate’s rainfall inundated Central America and killed 45.

Seventeen tropical storms formed in 2017, with 10 becoming hurricanes, six of which reached major hurricane strength (Harvey, Irma, Jose, Lee, Maria, Ophelia). 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.

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The retired names will be replaced by Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel and will make their debut during the 2023 hurricane season.

Eighty-six names have been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1954. The names are retired if the storms were so severe that their future use would be insensitive.

The 2005 season holds the record for the most names retired because of the devastation they caused. Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma were all removed from the rotating list that year.

—With files from Associated Press.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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