TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Floridians can now add “Idalia” to the growing list of “I” named hurricanes to reach their state.

On Sunday, Tropical Storm Idalia formed and is projected to eventually become a hurricane moving west of Tampa Bay, bringing rain to the area early this week.

While some parts of the Gulf are still recovering from the devastation Hurricane Ian left last year, people may be wondering why there are so many “I” named hurricanes and why they seem to devastate Florida.

Hurricanes Irma, Irene, Ida, Ian and Ingrid are easy to recognize, but aside from sharing the same vowel, these names have also all been used to identify disastrous hurricanes in recent years.

When it comes to naming hurricanes, the process is supposed to be random, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) only changing the time a name is used if the storm is “so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate.”

But according to WMO, the letter with the most number of retirees is – you guessed it – “I.” After Hurricane Ian, there have been a total of 14 retired I-letter hurricane names.

The Florida Climate Center also reported that since 1850, all of Florida’s coastline has been impacted by at least one hurricane. While areas around Tampa, Jacksonville and the Big Bend do not have as high of a risk as a direct strike from a hurricane, they are still susceptible to landfall each year.

In fact, Ian was threatening a direct hit on Tampa Bay until it took a last-minute shift and went toward Fort Myers.

Out of the 14 I-named storms, Florida has been impacted by three of them: Ivan, Irma and Ian.

For Atlantic hurricanes, the WMO maintains six lists of 21 names that are repeated every six years. Due to names being retired for their deadly force, Hurricane Irma was struck from the list after causing 129 deaths in the U.S. in 2017.

Irma’s name was instead replaced with Idalia.

List of retired I-named hurricanes:

  • Ione, 1955
  • Inez, 1966
  • Iris, 2001
  • Isidore, 2002
  • Isabel, 2003
  • Ivan, 2004
  • Ike, 2008
  • Igor, 2010
  • Irene, 2011
  • Ingrid, 2013
  • Irma, 2017
  • Iota, 2020 (from the Greek alphabet)
  • Ida, 2021

WFLA.com will have interactive streaming coverage on Tracking the Tropics starting Sunday night with Chief Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli. 

Be prepared with the WFLA Hurricane-Ready Guide 2023 and stay ahead of tropical development with the Tracking the Tropics newsletter.