Breaking News
More () »

Hurricane Idalia: Why 'I' storms are so powerful

A hurricane's name is retired if it caused considerable damage or a significant loss of life. Of the 14 retired "I" names, 13 have been major hurricane.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Idalia was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States in 2023, and it is backing up a certain trend: To beware of the storm names that start with the letter "I" during hurricane season. 

Storms beginning with the letter "I" have been retired more than any other letter in the alphabet: 14 times total, 12 of which happened after 2000. 

For the latest weather alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app and enable push notifications.

Idalia will be the fourth I-named hurricane within the last four years to make landfall in the United States. Isaias was the earliest "I" hurricane name on record in 2020, forming in July. The last two "I" named storm retirees were historic. 

Ida hit Louisiana in 2021, coincidentally, on the same date as Katrina did 14 years prior. Ida was a Category 4 that was so strong it reversed the Mississippi River's flow briefly and had sustained winds of 150 mph. 

 Subscribe to WCNC Charlotte on YouTube to be notified of new Weather videos

Then Ian hit in 2022. It was the costliest hurricane in Florida history and the third costliest ever for the United States. Peaking as a Category 5, it eventually made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm. Ian's storm surge of 13.8 feet at Fort Myers Beach is the highest recorded in southwest Florida in the past 150 years.

A hurricane's name is retired if it caused considerable damage or a significant loss of life. Of the 14 retired "I" names, 13 have been major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). Five have peaked at a Category 5, six at Category 4 and two were Category 3s. 

🌩️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their Emmy Award-winning Weather IQ YouTube channel. 🎥

So WHY "I"?

Honestly, it's all about timing. Over the past 30 years, the ninth storm, which would be named for the letter "I," averages an appearance around Sept. 16, right around the peak of hurricane season when the worst storms typically appear. Also, peak tropical activity is closest to the United States around this time of the year. 

Contact Chris Mulcahy at cmulcahy@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitterInstagram and TikTok.

WCNC Charlotte’s Weather IQ YouTube channel gives detailed explainers from the WCNC Charlotte meteorologists to help you learn and understand weather, climate and science. Watch previous stories where you can raise your Weather IQ in the YouTube playlist below and subscribe to get updated when new videos are uploaded. 

Wake Up Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at Wake Up Charlotte.   
SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || TuneIn || Google Podcasts   

All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out