Officials May Run Out of Hurricane Names This Year

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The lists are on a six-year rotation. Names used in 2005 year will not be seen again until 2011. Some names, however, may never be used again.

Hurricane Retirement

The World Meteorological Organization can retire the names of hurricanes that deal a deadly blow to people or economies. The UN body now maintains and updates the lists of named storms around the globe.

Technically, retirement lasts just ten years, long enough to facilitate insurance claims, lawsuits, and the like. In reality, however, the names of the fiercest storms may never be reused. Consider Camille, the Category Five storm that devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969.

Although no official decision has yet been made, the retirement of Katrina is a "fair bet," said Lepore, the National Hurricane Center spokesperson.

And Rita?

"I think probably so," Lepore speculated. "This storm is going into a major petrochemical production area … so the issue is not just the impact on people, but also the [economy]," he said.

And if a Hurricane Alpha blows up later this year and causes widespread destruction, says Oliver of the World Meteorological Association, it, too, will be retired.

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