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'Sandy' Is Retired as a Name for Hurricanes

The super storm was so damaging and deadly that the world's meteorologists will not repeat its name.


While there will certainly be more mega-nasty hurricanes that hammer the Atlantic coast, there will be no more "Hurricane Sandys." The World Meteorological Organization has retired that name from the hurricane list, signaling respect for Sandy's deadly and destructive career.

The organization recycles the same list of Atlantic cyclone names every six years. It retires the monickers of hurricanes that have been especially damaging, so as not to insult, confuse or freak out people by calling the next cyclone down the pipeline the same thing. Sandy certainly falls into that category, having enjoyed a relatively brief but calamitous tear through the ocean. Here's NOAA's recap:

Because of its tremendous size, Sandy drove a catastrophic storm surge into the New Jersey and New York coastlines. Preliminary U.S. damage estimates are near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone since Katrina to hit the United States. There were at least 147 direct deaths recorded across the Atlantic basin due to Sandy, with 72 of these fatalities occurring in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. Sandy caused the greatest number of U.S. direct fatalities related to a tropical cyclone outside of the southern states since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

Sandy's curious power derived from a cold front that energized the system right off the East Coast, blowing it up into a snow-spitting behemoth that flooded New York's subways and took giant bites out of New Jersey's beaches. People are still suffering from the storm's aftereffects.

Beginning in 2018, Sandy will be replaced with "Sara." Sandy will spend its retirement alongside other ferocious old-timers like 2005's Katrina, 2008's Ike and 1992's Andrew.

To recall, here's the moment when Manhattan's lights went out:

This is an animation of the system evolving from the University of Delaware:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.