Hurricanes Matthew and Otto ravaged the Caribbean so much last year their names have been retired by the World Meteorological Organization's Region IV Hurricane Committee, of which NOAA's National Hurricane Center is a member.
Storm names are retired if they were so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive. Matthew and Otto are the 81st and 82nd names to be removed from the Atlantic Basin storm name list.
Matthew became a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale on the night of Sept. 30, over the central Caribbean Sea at the lowest latitude ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. It made landfall along the coast of southwestern Haiti, extreme eastern Cuba, western Grand Bahama Island and central South Carolina. Matthew was responsible for 585 direct deaths, with more than 500 deaths occurring in Haiti, making it the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Stan in 2005.
Otto was a late-season tropical cyclone, cutting a swath through the southwestern Caribbean Sea beginning on Nov. 20. It intensified rapidly to a category 3 hurricane before making landfall in southern Nicaragua. It crossed from the Atlantic and into the eastern Pacific Ocean, rare for a tropical cyclone, when it moved across southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica and emerged over the far eastern North Pacific as a tropical storm. Heavy rainfall and flooding from the hurricane caused 18 fatalities in Central America.
The WMO will replace Matthew with Martin and Otto with Owen when the 2016 list is used again in 2022.
The National Hurricane Center does not control the naming of tropical storms. Instead a strict procedure has been established by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. For Atlantic storms, there is a list of names for each of six years. In other words, each list is in a rotation and repeated every six years. The only time there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be insensitive. For example, both Katrina and Rita were retired from the 2005 list and Ike was retired from the 2008 list.