Twenty-one years ago today... one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States changed the face of South Florida.
Adjusted for inflation... the 1992 storm was... after Katrina... the second costliest storm in U.S. history.
The storm's wind speeds were later estimated at more than 160 miles per hour... they broke the gauges used to collect such data. Andrew was a small and fast-moving hurricane... tiny compared to slow giants like the more recent storms Katrina and Rita.
But along with Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane... Andrew was only the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. since records were first kept.
As with many of the worst Atlantic hurricanes... Andrew was born as a result of a tropical wave which moved off the west coast of Africa wave and passed south of the Cape Verde Islands. It became a tropical storm on August 17, 1992 and moved uneventfully west northwestward across the Atlantic.
Significant changes occurred in the large-scale environment of Andrew on August 21 as a deep high pressure center developed over the southeast U.S. and extended eastward to north of the tropical storm. In response to the much more favorable environment... Tropical Storm Andrew strengthened rapidly and turned westward.
Andrew became a hurricane on August 22 and strengthened to a strong category 4 hurricane the next day. As it moved westward... it weakened to 941 millibars as it passed over Great Bahama Bank on the 24th... but rapidly re-intensified as it moved over the Gulfstream on its approach to Florida.
In fact... the deepening trend continued up to and slightly inland of the coast. (Eye temperatures as measured by reconnaissance aircraft suggest that convection in the eyewall and associated vertical circulation became more vigorous as the storm moved ashore).
The storm devastated Dade County where it caused an estimated $25 billion in damage. After striking Florida... Andrew moved northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to make a second landfall in a sparsely populated area of south-central Louisiana as a Category 3 storm on August 26. In total... Andrew directly caused 23 deaths in the U.S. and indirectly caused 38 more. The number of homes destroyed was 25,524 and 101,241 were damaged.
For a complete look at Andrew ... check out this web site
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