On August 22, 1992, Hurricane Andrew became the first named hurricane of the season. As it tracked closer to the Bahamas and Florida, Andrew rapidly strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane within 24 hours of reaching hurricane strength. After weakening briefly, this storm rapidly re-intensified while approaching the Florida coast. Before sunrise on August 24th, Andrew slammed into the Florida coast producing devastating damage. After impacting Florida, it then traveled over the Gulf of Mexico, before making a second landfall along the Louisiana coast. A total of 65 deaths were either directly or indirectly associated with Andrew. The estimated cost of damage was around $26 billion.
Hurricane Andrew is one of only four category five hurricanes to make landfall in the Continental United States since 1900. The other three include the 1935 Florida Keys Labor Day Storm, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Michael in 2018. Andrew, Camille and Michael have all been retired from the Atlantic Basin name list.
Hurricane Andrew first made landfall near Homestead Air Force Base in southern Florida. When the hurricane moved onshore, the maximum sustained winds were 165 mph. This is the strongest and most devastating hurricane to hit this area on record dating back to 1900.
Homestead was the hardest-hit community where more than 99 percent of the mobile homes were completely destroyed. 15 individuals directly lost their lives from the hurricane with another 28 deaths indirectly associated with Hurricane Andrew.
After producing damage in southern Florida, Andrew then set its eyes on the Gulf Coast. The storm was a little weaker when impacting the Louisiana coast but still packed a punch as a Category 3 hurricane. On August 26, Andrew made a second landfall around 3:30 a.m. near Point Chevruil, a community southwest of New Orleans.
Impacts To The Tennessee Valley
Here in the Tennessee Valley, we did not see a direct impact from Hurricane Andrew. Though there was no direct impact, it still had an influence on our weather. There was ample moisture in place and energy associated with the tropical depression. Severe thunderstorms fueled by moisture and energy produced strong winds and heavy rainfall.
Across the area, a total of one to two inches of rain fell during a 24-hour time period. The bulk of this fell in northern Alabama, right along the Tennessee state line. The heavy rain led to isolated flooding issues and ponding on roadways. The combination of the saturated ground and gusty winds meant downed powerlines and trees.
Scientific Advances Since Hurricane Andrew
30 years after Hurricane Andrew, NOAA scientists, forecasters and partners have revolutionized hurricane forecasting to save lives. Since 1992, the track forecast accuracy has increased by 75 percent and the intensity forecast has increased by 50 percent. Key improvements to how observations are collected have helped significantly increase the forecast accuracies. The advanced technology used by the Hurricane Hunters helps give us a closer look inside a storm.
To read more information about these advances from NOAA click here.