CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Idalia was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States in 2023, and it is backing up a certain trend: To beware of the storm names that start with the letter "I" during hurricane season.
Storms beginning with the letter "I" have been retired more than any other letter in the alphabet: 14 times total, 12 of which happened after 2000.
Idalia will be the fourth I-named hurricane within the last four years to make landfall in the United States. Isaias was the earliest "I" hurricane name on record in 2020, forming in July. The last two "I" named storm retirees were historic.
Ida hit Louisiana in 2021, coincidentally, on the same date as Katrina did 14 years prior. Ida was a Category 4 that was so strong it reversed the Mississippi River's flow briefly and had sustained winds of 150 mph.
Then Ian hit in 2022. It was the costliest hurricane in Florida history and the third costliest ever for the United States. Peaking as a Category 5, it eventually made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm. Ian's storm surge of 13.8 feet at Fort Myers Beach is the highest recorded in southwest Florida in the past 150 years.
A hurricane's name is retired if it caused considerable damage or a significant loss of life. Of the 14 retired "I" names, 13 have been major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). Five have peaked at a Category 5, six at Category 4 and two were Category 3s.
So WHY "I"?
Honestly, it's all about timing. Over the past 30 years, the ninth storm, which would be named for the letter "I," averages an appearance around Sept. 16, right around the peak of hurricane season when the worst storms typically appear. Also, peak tropical activity is closest to the United States around this time of the year.
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