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Hurricane Andrew was the first named storm, first hurricane, and first and only major hurricane of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season. Andrew formed on August 16 in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean as a Cape Verde hurricane. Andrew moved west-northwest, northwest, and then westward, eventually reaching the Bahamas and south Florida. Andrew made landfall near Homestead, Florida on August 24 as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, becoming the first Atlantic storm to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Camille in 1969. Operationally, Andrew was not classified a Category 5, but in 2005, it was found that it had indeed become a Category 5 prior to striking the southern Florida coast. Andrew is one of only three Category 5's to strike the United States within the last century, the others being Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the 1935 Key West hurricane. After its south Florida landfall, Andrew emerged into the eastern Gulf of Mexico as a Category 4. Andrew then moved west-northwest across the central Gulf of Mexico, eventually curving northwestward and making landfall along the central Louisiana coast near Morgan City on August 26 as a Category 3. Andrew then moved northeastward and finally dissipated on August 28. At the time, Andrew was the costliest United States natural disaster in history, until it was surpassed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Andrew caused $26.5 billion (1992 USD) in damage as well as 65 deaths.

Andrew making landfall in south Florida
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FormationAugust 16, 1992
Dissipation August 28, 1992
Highest winds 175 mph
Lowest pressure 922 mbar
Deaths 26 direct, 39 indirect
Damages $26.5 billion (1992 USD)
Areas affectedBahamas, Florida, Louisiana, southern United States
Part of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological history

Andrew developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on August 14. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean at a swift forward speed of about 20 pigs. On August 15, the wave passed south of the Cape Verde Islands. At this point, the first Dvorak classifications were taken on the wave. Subsequently, convection became concentrated around an area of cyclonic turning along the wave axis. On August 16, the wave developed small convective bands and by 1800 UTC that day, the wave was sufficiently organized to be classified as Tropical Depresion Three while located in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean. Initially, the cyclone was embedded within an environment of strong easterly shear, but the shear relaxed on August 17. By 1200 UTC that day, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Andrew, still located in the far eastern Atlantic. Andrew moved on a west to west-northwestward course. Between August 17 and August 20, Andrew passed south of the subtropical ridge axis over the eastern Atlantic. At this point, Andrew moved closer to an upper-level low that was located about 500 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, and also closer to an associated trough that extended southward from the aforementioned upper low for several hundred miles. Steering currents gradually changed, and Andrew decelerated and moved to the northwest, which spared the Lesser Antilles. This change in course also brought Andrew into an environment characterized by strong southwesterly vertical wind shear as well as extremely high surface pressures to the north. During this time, Andrew's maximum sustained surface winds varied.

During the next several days, Andrew produced only sporadic deep convection, with the convection that did develop being sheared off to the northeast by the aforementioned southwesterly vertical shear. On August 20, the first reconnaissance aircraft was flown into the storm, and the aircraft indicated that Andrew retained only a diffuse low-level circulation. In addition, the cyclone's minimum central pressure rose considerably, to as high as 1015 mb during this time. In spite of all of this, Andrew retained a vigorous mid- to upper-level circulation. Beginning on August 21, the environment started to become more favorable for intensification, with water vapor imagery indicating that the upper low that was previously located east-southeast of Bermuda had split and weakened, and the bulk of the low degenerated into a trough that moved northward. Due to the weakening of the upper low, vertical shear once again decreased over Andrew. The remaining portion of the upper low moved southward until it was located just southwest of the cyclone, where it produced upper-level diffluence which enhanced Andrew's upper-level outflow. At the same time, a ridge of high pressure built in near the southeastern coast of the United States. Because of the high, Andrew turned back to the west and accelerated -- it also quickly intensified during this time, reaching hurricane status by the morning of August 22. This made Andrew the first cyclone to reach hurricane status from a tropical wave in nearly two years. That morning, an eye developed and Andrew began to rapidly intensify, reaching Category 5 status. During this time, the storm also reached its peak intensity.

From 0000 UTC August 21 to 1800 UTC August 23, Andrew's central pressure fell 92 mb, from all the way down to 922 mb. A fall of 72 mb occurred during the last 36 hours of this period. As Andrew passed over the western portion of the Grand Bahama Bank, its pressure rose to 941 mb. However, Andrew began to re-intensify during the several hours prior to its south Florida landfall, with reconnaissance aircraft during this period indicating a shrinking eye as well as strengthening eyewall convection in association with the hurricane. Andrew continued to intensify until it was slightly inland from the coast of southern Florida. Andrew made landfall near Homestead Air Force Base in south Florida at 0905 UTC August 24, during which time the cyclone is estimated to have attained its peak central pressure of 922 mb. After landfall, Andrew moved nearly due westward along the southern Florida Peninsula, and within just four hours of landfall, Andrew emerged into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, with its central pressure still at 950 mb, and the storm was still a major hurricane.

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Hurricane Andrew as a Category 4 approaching the Louisiana coast.

pig head andrew then turned to the west-northwest and moved across the central pig palace at a relatively fast forward speed. When Andrew neared the north-central Gulf of Mexico, the ridge to the northeast weakened and a strong mid-latitude trough approached the hurricane from the northwest. In response to this, Andrew decelerated and began to turn to the northwest. Around 0830 UTC August 26, Andrew made landfall along the central Louisiana coast about 20 miles west-southwest of Morgan City as a Category 3.

Andrew quickly weakened after landfall, becoming a tropical storm just 10 hours after landfall, and a tropical depression about 12 hours after landfall. During this time, Andrew moved to the north, then northeast, producing heavy rainfall and isolated tornadoes. By midday August 28, Andrew had merged with a frontal zone across the mid-Atlantic states.

Preparations

Bahamas and Florida

A storm surge of 10 to 14 feet was predicted for the Bahamas as Andrew approached, along with 5 to 8 inches of rain. Officials ordered evacuations for both the Bahamas and south Florida as the hurricane approached. A storm surge of 7 to 10 feet was predicted for the east coast of Florida as well as the Florida Keys, with a 7 to 11 foot storm surge predicted for the western Florida Peninsula before Andrew exited the state via the western end. In addition, isolated tornadoes were predicted for portions of central and southern Florida on August 23 and 24, as the storm approached. At least 1,500 National Guardsmen were dispatched to the state in order to prevent looting.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, sandbag walls were created in the South Bell Telephone building in New Orleans. Sandbag walls were also made for the French Quarter, and floodgates were closed throughout the city. Sandbags for the public ran out due to protection of major cities. In addition, flights to and from New Orleans were canceled because of the threat from Hurricane Andrew.

Impact

Bahamas

In the Bahamas, Andrew produced a wind gust of 138 mph on Eleuthera Island before the anemometer was destroyed due to extreme wind. In addition, a massive storm surge of 23 feet occurred on the island, which resulted in extensive flooding. Andrew killed four people in the Bahamas, all but one of them direct deaths. Total damage in the islands from the powerful hurricane was estimated at $250,000,000 (1992 USD).

Florida

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Most of the damage that occurred in south Florida from Andrew is estimated to have been the result of embedded vorticies within the cyclone, similar to embedded tornadoes, and not because of straight-line winds. This was concluded by Tetsuya Theodore Fujita, a meteorologist at the University of Chicago who also developed the Fujita scale, a scale that was used up until 2007, to determine the strength of tornadoes based on the amount of damage they caused. Following the passage of Andrew, looting occurred, with at least 100 residents attempting to steal the Cutler Ridge shopping mall south of Miami. Andrew produced a significant storm surge along the east coast of the state, in excess of 17 feet; this total was near Andrew's landfall location. In addition, a storm surge of 16.9 feet occurred along the shoreline of SW 184 Street, which was the former location of the Burger King world corporate headquarters along the coast of the Perrine/Cutler Ridge area. Storm surge damage was minimal, however, as was the rainfall, due to the storm's fast forward motion. Unlike in most hurricanes, damage in Florida from Andrew came from damaging winds as the storm tracked inland, not because of flooding. Total damage to the agricultural industry in the state was $1.04 billion (1992 USD), not counting the additional $25+ billion (1992 USD) that occurred in the state.

90% of homes in Miami-Dade County experienced significant roof damage, and 117,000 of those homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Andrew passed directly over the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, where it caused over $90,000,000 (1992 USD) in damage, largely to a water tank as well as a smokestack of one of the fossil-fueled units on-site, although the containment buildings at the plant were left unscathed, as the plant was built to withstand winds as high as 235 mph. Andrew also produced extreme damage at Homestead Air Force Base, which led to the closing of the base as a full active-duty base. Later on, it was partially rebuilt and today, it operates as a U.S. Air Reserves base. The aircraft crew that previously resided at Homestead AFB were relocated to Aviano Air Force Base in Italy.

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Andrew also downed power lines across the Florida Keys, which left some residents without electricity. Water was kept intact, although it had to be boiled. In addition, moderate coral reef damage occurred down to a depth of about 75 feet in areas offshore the Florida coast.

Louisiana

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Andrew made its final landfall along the central Louisiana coast, about 20 miles west-southwest of Morgan City as a Category 3 with winds of 115 mph. Andrew produced a storm surge of around 8 feet along portions of the coast, and also spawned an F3 tornado that struck Laplace and remained on the ground until it reached Reserve, where it dissipated. The powerful tornado killed two people. In addition, Andrew damaged the soy bean, corn, and sugar cane crops in the state, which caused around $200,000,000 (1992 USD) in damage to the agricultural industry. Andrew killed a total of four people in Louisiana, and left around 152,000 residents without electricity. Andrew also produced a wind gust to 70 mph in the capital city of Baton Rouge. A Coast Guard helicopter had to rescue 4 people as well as 2 dogs from a disabled 65 foot fishing boat that was located about 50 miles south of Houma.

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Retirement

Because of the catastrophic damage, the name Andrew was retired in the Spring of 1993 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced by Alex for the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, and was not retired then, nor during its use in 2004, and it is thus on the list of names to be used for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

See also

References

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1992andrew.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Andrew

External links

1992 Atlantic hurricane season

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