Hurricane Andrew was a catastrophic Category Five hurricane that devastated portions of the Bahamas, Southern Florida and Louisiana in August, 1992. A tropical wave moved off the west coast of Africa on August 14th, organizing into a Tropical Depression by the 16th. The depression moved west-northwest, and reached Tropical Storm strength on the 17th. Andrew intensified slightly before strong shear weakened the system. By the 20th, Andrew was barely of storm strength. Moving northwest, the system bypassed the Lesser Antilles, before slowing and turning back to the west. At this time, Andrew entered a very favorable environment and the storm quickly intensified, reaching hurricane strength on the 22nd.
Rapid intensification followed, and on the 23rd the hurricane peaked at 175 mph. Andrew crossed portions of the Bahamas, weakening slightly and then, just before landfall in Florida, re-intensified to a Category Five hurricane, with sustained winds of 165 mph. At 5:00 a.m. on August 24th, Andrew made landfall near Homestead, Florida, attended by winds of exceptional violence. The highest officially recorded wind was 142 mph, with a peak gust of 169 mph, from Fowey Rocks, when the instrument failed. The National Hurricane Center recorded a gust to 164 mph and a privately-owned anemometer, 177 mph, prior to those instruments failing. Post-analysis indicates that some areas, in the core of the storm, experienced peak winds between 200-215mph.
The devastation wrought by these extreme winds was nearly indescribable, with large areas of Southern Dade county literally flattened. The minimum pressure reported at landfall was 922mb (27.22in). Andrew weakened slightly over land, but re-strengthened with 145 mph winds, over the Gulf of Mexico. On the 26th, Andrew turned north-northwest and weakened before making a final landfall west of Morgan City, Louisiana as a Category Three, with 115 mph winds. It turned northeastward and dissipated over Tennessee on the 28th. Andrew resulted in 65 deaths, 26 direct and 39 indirect. The hurricane caused a total of $26 Billion (1992 USD), $45 Billion (2005 USD) , in damage(mostly in South Florida), making it the most damaging hurricane of record, at that time. View the full PDF1992 seasonal report HERE.
More Information on Hurricane Andrew
Reports from private barometers helped establish that Andrew’s central pressure at landfall in Homestead, Florida was 27.23 inches , which makes it the third most intense hurricane on record to hit the United States. Andrew’s peak winds in south Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. An automated station at Fowey Rocks reported 142 mph sustained winds with gusts to 200 mph (measured 144 ft above the ground), and higher values may have occurred after the station was damaged and stopped reporting. The National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph (measured 130 ft above the ground), while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home. In 2002, as part of an ongoing review of historical hurricane records, National Hurricane Center experts concluded that Andrew briefly had sustained winds of 165 mph at landfall (Andrew had originally been classified as a Category Four storm at landfall). Additionally, Berwick, Louisiana, reported 96 mph sustained winds with gusts to 120 mph.
As with all high intensity storms (categories four and five), the worst damage is thought to have occurred, not from straight line winds but from vortexes or embedded tornadoes. There were thousands of these vortexes in Andrew; many of them could be traced for several miles, as they usually destroyed every building in their paths.
Andrew produced a 17 ft storm surge near the landfall point in Florida, while storm tides of at least eight ft inundated portions of the Louisiana coast. Andrew also produced a killer tornado in southeastern Louisiana.
Andrew was responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. (Illegal aliens in the U.S. are not included in the official count.) The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million.
Resources on Hurricane Andrew
1-Hurricane Research Division on Hurricane Andrew2-National Hurricane Center re-Analysis press release3-Hurricane Andrew ,A case study4-Hurricane Andrew Damage Photo’s5-Hurricane Andrew 10 Years Later6-NOAA’S Hurricane Andrew’s Page7-Hurricane Andrew Satelitte images and Surface products8-A Reanalysis of Hurricane Andrew’s Intensity9-NHC archive of Hurricane Andrew10-Chris Landsea’s Hurricane Andrew11-TPC NHC Hurricane Andrew Review- Ed RappaportHurricane Andrew Videos