Ask Josh Fitzpatrick: Hurricane Andrew - 20 Years Later

We’re nearing the peak of hurricane season. Typically if there’s going to be a hurricane form, it’ll be during this time of year. Not only is that the case this year but also two decades ago when one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick takes a look back at hurricane Andrew.

During the last week of August in 1992, what started out as a weak tropical storm ended up being a major hurricane. 


Here's the path hurricane Andrew took.  It was a weak system for days out in the Atlantic and at one point it looked like it was going to totally dissipate and miss the U.S. all together.  But on August 22nd, it rapidly intensified and headed due west towards south Florida



Here's a satellite image taken as Andrew, looking like a buzz saw, made its first landfall just south of downtown Miami before 5 in the morning on august 24th. 



The winds were so strong it blew debris such as plywood and two by fours into trees as pictured below in Homestead, a southern suburb of Miami.




Most of the catastrophic damage occurred just south of the downtown area.  As the eye of Andrew tore across the southern suburbs, it tossed cars like they were toys and blew away homes as if they were made of cards or match sticks. 




Bottom line, Andrew is blamed for 65 fatalities.  It could have been much higher had it hit downtown Miami directly.  It also made a second landfall in Louisiana but in a relatively rural part of the state.  Despite that, it caused more than 26 billion dollars in damages. Its peak winds were at 175 mph which is a category 5, the strongest of all hurricanes.  However it wasn't until 2002 it was officially classified as a cat. 5.  When Andrew hit south Florida, it took out the anemometer, which measures wind speed and also knocked out the Doppler radar site in Miami.  Ten years later further research and analyses of the damage by the NationalHurricane Center decided to officially upgrade Andrew to a category 5.  That makes it only the third in U.S. history to make landfall at that strength. 


The 1992 tropical season was overall a quiet one.  Andrew was the first named names storm and was the worst.  It only takes one bad storm striking land to make it a very bad season! 


Andrew gave our local region some rainfall as the remnants passed.


The name Andrew was retired so there will never be another tropical system with that name.


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