Hurricane Irene, a Cat 3 storm that rocked the East Coast last August, causing $18.7 billion in damage in the Caribbean, Canada, and 12 East Coat states, has been retired from the names of hurricanes forever by the World Meteorological Organization.
Irene came off the West African coast as a tropical wave on August 15 and became Tropical Storm Irene on August 20 in the Caribbean. It reached full strength with 120 mph winds before making four landfalls in the Bahamas. It was still a Category 1 storm when it made landfall again on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It then pinballed up the coast, hitting New York City as a very strong tropical storm and flooded much of the mid-Atlantic and inland New England.
Irene will now join a list of 75 other storms to be retired, including Allison, (2001) Noel, (2007) Gustav, (2008) Gloria, (1985) Diane (1955) Katrina, (2005) Ivan (2004) and Hugo (1989.) The criteria for retiring names is based on the amount of destruction caused by the storm. It was the seventh costliest hurricane in US history.
Irene was a serious swell maker, ending the summer with waves for the Caribbean and much of the Southeast, all the way up to New Jersey. It also proved to be an obstacle for several professional events. The East Coast Surfing Championships (which hosted the Vans Pro and Junior Pro) had to be cut short after the pro events. Irene's damage in Long Beach, New York caused the cancellation of Quiksilver City, the massive action sports and music festival associated with the Quiksilver Pro New York. The contest itself was in jeopardy of being cancelled by the city, but was allowed to run on its scheduled September dated and was graced with swell from Hurricane Katia.
Hurricane Irene claimed some 56 lives, including 55 year-old Frederick Fernandez, a math teacher from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., who drowned surging the Irene groundswell. The Outer Banks were fully ravished by the storm, bough to light by ESPN Surfing contributor, Matt Pruett.