This past week marked the 18th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew's landfall in south Florida, so what better time to look back on this destructive category 5 storm than today's NEQ Friday Review!?
What I am about to share with you is an excerpt from a blog post by Greg Nordstrom, which he wrote two years ago on Andrew's 16th anniversary. As most know by now, Greg is a good friend of mine, my co-host of The Weathervein, as well as blogger of EYE OF THE STORM. Greg is also a professional storm chase and instructor of meteorology at Mississippi State University. I'll be joining Greg at some point this hurricane season for the big chase! Where that is and when it happens is to be determined.
Now back to Hurricane Andrew...
Hurricane Andrew made it's first of two U.S. landfalls (the second along the central Louisiana coast) on August 24, 1992 just south of Miami, Florida near Homestead at around 5:00 a.m., and was the third and last category 5 storm to hit the United States. At the time Andrew was thought to be a strong category 4 with sustained winds of 145 mph, but 12 years later reanalysis concluded that Andrew was a category 5 with sustained winds of 165 mph at the time of landfall.
Andrew's highest recorded surface wind gust was observed at 177 mph about one mile inland in Perrine, Florida, with the highest recorded storm surge of 16.9 feet recorded on SW 184th street.
To this date Andrew made U.S. landfalling hurricane history as the fourth strongest hurricane by pressure at 922mb (27.23"). The only storms stronger than Andrew at landfall were Katrina at 920mb, Camille at 909mb, and The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 at 892mb.
At the time, Hurricane Andrew also was the costliest landfalling hurricane ever in the U.S., but now ranks second to Hurricane Katrina. However, despite it's legacy Andrew actually could have been a lot worse.... How, you ask?
Well, if Hurricane Andrew would have made landfall about 30 miles north, Miami beach and South Beach would have been completely annihilated. It would have been especially worse today, as Miami and South Florida in general doubled in size since 1992. It's a disaster in the making and the proof is in the history...
In 1926 Miami took a direct hit from a strong 935mb category 4 hurricane at 150 mph (estimated) and the city was completely destroyed. Can you imagine what Miami would look like today if another 1926 hurricane hit? The damage would be well over $500 billion and the loss of life would be much higher than Katrina at 3,000+.
Well, there you have it... Andrew's legacy will always live on as a benchmark hurricane and one of the most significant and catastrophic weather events to unfold on U.S soil. Luckily there are no Andrew's on the horizon, but the 2010 hurricane season is still young and it could happen again – maybe not this year and maybe not next – but it will happen again, and it could be even worse!
Have a great weekend and remember, the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is this Sunday, August 29!
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