Two strong hurricanes hitting the US and a couple married 75 years have something in common.
Harvey and Irma Schluter have been married for 75 years. Harvey turned 104 in July; Irma will be 93 in November.
They vividly remember many of the major events of the 20th century, from her first time spotting an airplane, during the Great Depression, to his wonder at watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. In a recent phone interview, Mrs. Schluter even recalled the weather near her home in Spokane, Washington on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was cool and cloudy.
But never before have they seen two major hurricanes bearing their names threaten the United States.
Mrs. Schluter said, “I don’t know how they’ve done that, to have a Harvey and Irma,” “I don’t know how that worked out.”
The explanation is simple. Since 1979, the World Meteorological Organization has alternated men’s and women’s names for tropical storms born over the Atlantic.
Six master lists of names are kept and used in rotation, so the minor hurricane names of 2017 will appear again in 2023. Only hurricanes that are costly or deadly enough to be memorable have their names retired.
Given the ferocity of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017, this will probably be the first and last time the names appear in tandem.
The Schluters, by contrast, have been appearing in tandem since the 1940s. They were wed in 1942.