Why isn't Bertha retired from the Atlantic Hurricane list after 1996?
Bertha made landfall as a category 2 hurricane in 1996. (Source: WECT)
The World Meteorological Organization's states, “The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity.” (Source: WECT)
Parts of Johnnie Mercer's Pier was torn apart during Hurricane Berth in 1996. (Source: WECT)
You may recall, the year 1996 was a terrible hurricane season for southeast North Carolina. With another tropical storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean, it's not the track or strength of the system that has people on their toes -- it's the name.
Wrightsville Beach native, David Raines, lost a dear friend when Bertha came ashore.
"Bertha is a name I don't want to hear again," Raines said.
The owner of Buddy's Crab House and Oyster Bar, Matt Wiles, remembers the day, too.
"I do not want to see another Bertha. I figured they would've retired that name," said Wiles thinking back on the storm that caused so much damage.
Hazel, Hugo, and Fran are just a few names from the Atlantic Hurricane list that have been retired.
What does it take for a storm to be put to rest? WECT News reached out to the World Meteorological Organization to find out what the criteria was for storm name retirement.
The organization's headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland so we didn't have much luck. Their website explains the specific process in creating the name lists. However, there was one sentence about names that are retired.
The website states, "The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity."
While the WMO didn't retire the name Bertha, the storm devastated parts of the United State's east coast. Hurricane Bertha was responsible for 12 deaths and an estimated $250 million in damage.
Bertha made landfall as a category 2 hurricane on July 12, 1996 between Wrightsville and Topsail Beaches. 104 mph winds ripped through the Cape Fear region on a time some locals will never forget.
Raines choked up when he recalled the day, "I was coming off the beach and I saw an ambulance going through the median and tress and all… It was going to get a friend of mine…"
"You're worried if your business is going to be there the next day, or your house, but thankfully that storm wasn't as bad as others we have seen," Wiles said.
As for Raines, the name Bertha is much more than just a hurricane.
"There are plenty of other names out there that don't make you feel those sad feelings," Raines said.
Three hurricane names were retired in 1996, one of which was Fran.
The category 3 hurricane made landfall nearly two months after Bertha. Comparatively, Fran caused more than twice as many deaths and caused more than nine times the amount of economic damage than Bertha.
This year, if we get to ‘F' on the Atlantic Hurricane list, the storm would be named Fay.