Hurricane Andrew

August 16-28, 1992

Hurricane Andrew was a small yet very intense Cape Verde-type storm that affected the Bahamas, South Florida, and South Louisiana with unprecedented damage (click here for an interactive track). The hurricane inflicted around $25 billion in losses to the United States and stood as the costliest hurricane to affect the U. S. until 2005.  As the 20th anniversary of this historic hurricane approaches, let’s take a look at the legacy of Hurricane Andrew.

Andrew's journey began as a tropical wave departing the West African coast on August 14th.  By August 16th, the wave was organized enough to be classified a tropical depression, and then a tropical storm on the 17th.  Andrew tracked west to northwest across the Atlantic around the south side of a ridge of high pressure. An upper low near Bermuda initially kept Tropical Storm Andrew from developing stronger as convection around the storm was sheared away from the low-level center. Eventually, the upper low weakened and retreated north while a deep ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S. strengthened and turned the system back to the west.  

Andrew accelerated westward and rapidly intensifyed from a minimal hurricane early on the 22nd to a category 5 hurricane by mid-day on the 23rd. During this period, the central pressure dropped 72 mb in 36 hours, allowing the storm to reach its maximum intensity of 150 knots (175 mph) with an accompanying central presure of 922 mb.
The ridge held steady over the next couple of days, driving the small but very intense hurricane west. The cyclone weakened slightly to a category 4 hurricane while crossing the Bahamas, but re-intensified to a category 5 hurricane while crossing the Gulf Stream east of the Florida peninsula. The storm slammed Dade County, Florida (south of Downtown Miami, near Homestead) around 5 AM EDT on August 24th with winds of 145 knots (165 mph) and a central pressure of 922 mb. 

Andrew weakened slightly to a category 4 while traversing South Florida for a few hours, eventually emerging over the Gulf of Mexico.  For the remainder of the 24th, Andrew continued to move quickly west-northwestward with no change in strength.  By the late morning hours of the 25th, a much larger eye was evident on visible satellite imagery as Andrew slowly strengthened.  Andrew reached 125 knots (145 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 937 mb during the late afternoon and early evening hours of the 25th, about 50 miles south of the Southeast Louisiana coast. 
Andrew began to slow down and move northwest for the remaminder of the 25th as an approaching upper-level trough began eroding the western side of the ridge.  

Hurricane Andrew continued to weaken during the early morning hours of August 26th as the eye paralleled just offshore the South-Central Louisiana coast. Andrew finally made landfall
near Point Chevreuil (about 20 miles west-southwest of Morgan City) at 3:30 AM CDT as a category 3 hurricane with winds of 100 knots (115 mph) and a central pressure of 956 mb.  

After landfall, Andrew continued on a more northerly track while weakening across South-Central Louisiana, traversing most of the Atchafalaya Basin.  Andrew was downgraded to a tropical storm by noontime, northwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The storm was further downgraded to a tropical depression by midnight on the 27th, just southwest of Jackson, Mississippi.

Listed below are post-storm reports and meteorological data gathered from Hurricane Andrew.

Post Storm Reports
NWS Lake Charles, LA NWS Baton Rouge, LA NWS New Orleans, LA
National Hurricane Center HNHC Hurricane Research Division

Storm Surge Inundation Maps
SLOSH Model Animation of Storm Surge Inundation Across South Central Louisiana
Estimated Storm Surge Depth (subtracting land elevation) Across South Central Louisiana

United States Geological Survey Storm Surge Reports
Storm-Tide Elevations Produced by Andrew Along the Louisiana Coast, August 25-27, 1992.
Effects of Hurricane Andrew (1992) on Wetlands in Southern Florida and Louisiana

Radar and Satellite Animated Imagery

Radar Imagery:

Miami, FL

New Orleans, LA

Melbourne, FL

Lake Charles, LA

 

 

Houston, TX

 
     

Satellite Imagery:

 

GOES 7 Satellite Imagery Animation from NOAA Environmental Visualation Laboratory

Webpage design and content by:
Donovan Landreneau, Andy Tingler, Lance Escudé, Jonathan Brazzell, Donald Jones


USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.