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'Ida' removed from UN agency's hurricane roster

US President Joe Biden seen visiting a neighbourhood affected by Hurricane Ida in Manville, New Jersey
US President Joe Biden seen visiting a neighbourhood affected by Hurricane Ida in Manville, New Jersey

The death and destruction caused by Hurricane Ida in the United States last year has prompted the World Meteorological Organization to remove the name from a rotating list of storm titles.

The UN weather agency said that "Ida" would be replaced by "Imani" after meteorologists determined that the future use of the name could be upsetting.

Hurricane Ida struck the US Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane last August, bringing major flooding and knocking out power to large parts of the heavily populated region.

The storm turned streets into raging rivers, inundated basements and shut down the New York subway.

In all, the storm caused 55 direct fatalities and 32 indirect fatalities in the United States, the WMO said.

Throughout the annual Atlantic hurricane season, which officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, storms are named to make them easier to identify in warning messages.

Storms are assigned alternating male and female names in alphabetical order.

They are reused every six years, though if any hurricane is particularly devastating, its name is retired and replaced.

Ida is the 94th name retired from the list since the system was first put in place in 1953, WMO said.

Red Cross volunteers help residents in Flushing, Queens in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida

Many more storms than that have proved deadly, however.

The UN agency said each year, there are on average 84 named tropical cyclones around the world, which over the past half century have on average killed 43 people and caused €74 million in losses every day.

And the situation is worsening as a result of climate change, with scientists saying the Earth's warming surface temperature is amplifying the impact of extreme weather disasters.

"We had more Category 4 and Category 5 landfalls in the USA from 2017 to 2021 than from 1963 to 2016," Ken Graham, WMO's Hurricane Committee chair, said in the statement.

Named storms also appear to be forming earlier in the year, and discussions are under way about whether to move forward the official start-date of the Atlantic hurricane season.

In 2021, Ida was the most devastating of an extraordinary storm season - the third most active on record in terms of named storms.

Last year saw 21 named storms with winds of 64km/h or greater, including seven hurricanes with winds of at least 118km/h, WMO said.

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