GENEVA - Andrew, Mike, Alibera. Troublemakers all, but never again.
The United Nations weather experts who name storms have decided there won't be any second chances for the most notorious squalls.
"I regret to say that if your name is Andrew, Mike or Alibera ... hurricanes that have caused so much devastation and loss of life, these names have been retired and will never be used again," said Eirah Gorre-Dale of the World Meteorological Organization.
In the western hemisphere alone, 44 names have been retired.
Hurricane Andrew caused $15 billion of damage in the United States in 1992. In 1990, Cyclone Alibera wrecked almost all the buildings in Manajary, Madagascar, and Typhoon Mike swept through the Philippines, killing hundreds and causing more than $350 million in damage.
Those names are finished. But there's hope for Wendy, Gordon, Lisa, Irene and Owen, among many others still available, Gorre-Dale said.
About 80 tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons develop every year, with winds swirling to at least 74 mph. Six world regions have alphabetical lists prepared with names fitting their locales. For instance, the Caribbean list for this year includes Ana, Fabian, Henri and Wanda.
The idea of naming storms comes from regional traditions. At one point, in some Spanish-speaking islands, storms were named for the saint's day when they hit. Hurricane Santa Ana and San Felipe struck Puerto Rico in 1825 and 1876, respectively.
During World War II, the United States used female names for storms. Male names were added to the lists in the 1970s.