On Monday morning, Aug. 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck south
Florida. With peak wind gust speeds up to about 175 mph (78 m/s),
it was the third-strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in
recorded history. The storm's center made landfall near Homestead,
a community in Dade County about 25 miles (40 km) south of Miami.
Fortunately, though it was strong, the storm's diameter was
relatively small. Hence, Miami's downtown did not experience
exceptionally high winds, and damage within the downtown area and
areas to the north was minimal.
The storm had a forward (translational) speed of 18 mph to 20
mph (8 m/s to 9 m/s), which is relatively fast for a hurricane. It
crossed the Florida peninsula in about four hours and still was a
major hurricane when it entered the Gulf of Mexico. On the morning
of Aug. 28, 1992, the hurricane made landfall in a relatively
unpopulated area about 40 miles (60 km) from Lafayette, La., which
is about 100 miles (160 km) from New Orleans, thus sparing New
Orleans from the threat of catastrophic flooding.
Because of the hurricane's small diameter and fast translational
speed, flooding was minor. With limited flooding, advanced warning
of the approaching storm and a lot of luck, the death toll was
surprisingly low for a storm that delivered extremely high wind
speeds; there were 15 deaths in Florida, eight in Louisiana and
three in the Bahamas. Although Hurricane Andrew spared lives, it
did not spare property; it was the costliest hurricane and most
expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. Property damage was
estimated to be $40 billion (in 2000 dollars). The number of homes
destroyed totaled 25,524, and 101,241 homes were damaged. As a
result of Hurricane Andrew, several insurance companies were unable
to cover their insured losses and declared bankruptcy.
Photo courtesy of TLSmith Consulting...
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