Goodnight, Irene: Hurricane retired from list of storm names


Track of hurricane Irene (NOAA)

Irene was named a tropical storm on August 21 before intensifying to hurricane strength on August 22. It roared up the East Coast August 27 through 29, first making landfall in eastern North Carolina. More than 7 million homes and business lost power from the storm.

Ultimately, Irene claimed 40 lives in the U.S.: 6 from storm surge/waves or rip currents; 13 to wind (mainly falling trees), and 21 from rain-induced flooding. The storm also killed 5 people in the Dominican Republic and three in Haiti.


Satellite image of Irene as it makes landfall near New York City as a tropical storm (NOAA)

The storm will be recalled not so much for its coastal effects, but more for the torrents it dumped on the interior Northeast and New England. As the Post’s Joel Achenbach wrote, the storm “inundated the steep valleys of Vermont, the farmland of Upstate New York and many other places nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean.”

Irene was one of 2011’s 14 billion dollar weather disasters with estimated damages exceeding $7.3 billion.

Unless they are retired, storm names are reused every six years. NOAA notes Irene is the 76th name to be retired in the Atlantic since 1954.

Related: Hurricane Irene hype: over the top media coverage or justified?

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.

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