Good riddance: Florence, Michael retired as hurricane names

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The two destructive storms both hit the East Coast last fall, bringing wind and rain from Florida to the Carolinas and claiming nearly 100 lives

WILMINGTON — After making their mark on the Cape Fear region and the East Coast last year, both Florence and Michael have been retired as hurricane names by the World Meteorological Organization, which includes NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

The two names have been replaced Francine and Milton, both of which will officially enter the rotation in 2024 hurricane season.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, said Wednesday that names are on a six-year cycle and are only retired if reusing them would be insensitive to those affected by the name’s previous storms.

“There was never any question that these two were going to be retired,” he said.

Including Florence and Michael, 88 names have been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storm naming became a practice. The 2005 hurricane season, which included Katrina, has the most retired names for one season – five.

Previously retired storm names that affected the area were Matthew (2016), Floyd (1999), Fran (1996) and Hazel (1954).

Hurricane Florence is considered one of the most destructive to ever hit the Carolinas, where it made landfall in Wrightsville Beach in the early morning of Sept. 14. It went on claim at least 51 deaths and caused extensive flooding across North and South Carolina, and Virginia.

Wilmington and the surrounding region, in particular, were drenched by 30-plus inches of rainfall.

Hurricane Michael followed on Florence’s heels less than a month later, ravaging the Florida coast with devastating 155 mph winds. After making landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida on Oct. 10, it turned northeast and brought rain and wind to the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia. It is responsible for at least 45 deaths.

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or