Hurricane Andrew caused an estimated $26 billion damage in the United States making it the most expensive natural disaster in United States history. At landfall in southern Dade County, Florida, the central pressure was 922 millibars, which is the third lowest this century (after the 1935 Florida Keys Labor Day storm and Hurricane Camille in 1969) for a landfalling hurricane in the U.S.
As with many of the worst Atlantic hurricanes, Andrew was born as a result of a tropical wave which moved off the west coast of Africa wave and passed south of the Cape Verde Islands. It became a tropical storm on August 17, 1992 and moved uneventfully west northwestward across the Atlantic. Significant changes occurred in the large-scale environment of Andrew on August 21 as a deep high pressure center developed over the southeast U.S. and extended eastward to north of the tropical storm. In response to the much more favorable environment, Tropical Storm Andrew strengthened rapidly and turned westward.
Andrew became a hurricane on August 22 and strengthened to a strong category 4 hurricane the next day. As it moved westward, it weakened to 941 millibars as it passed over Great Bahama Bank, but rapidly re-intensified as it moved over the Gulfstream on its approach to Florida. In fact, the deepening trend continued up to and slightly inland of the coast. (Eye temperatures as measured by reconnaissance aircraft suggest that convection in the eyewall and associated vertical circulation became more vigorous as the storm moved ashore). Andrew stuck Dade county on August 24th as a Category 5 hurricane, with the center first reaching the coast at the northern tip of Elliott Key. The storm devastated Dade County where it caused an estimated $25 billion in damage, especially over the Homestead area. After striking Florida, Andrew moved northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to make a second landfall in a sparsely populated area of south-central Louisiana as a Category 3 storm on August 26. In total, Andrew directly caused 26 deaths in the U.S. and indirectly caused 39 more. The number of homes destroyed was approximately 49,000, with an additional estimated 108,000 damaged.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Andrew's landfall in South Florida, a video summary with statistics and other interesting information can be found here.
Radar image of Andrew at landfall. (courtesy of NOAA/AOML)
Satellite image of Andrew at landfall.
The intense winds within Andrew's eyewall brought complete destruction to locations in its path, pictured here is the Lakes by the Bay subdivision.