Over 27 years have passed since the monster of a storm named Hurricane Andrew played a dance of destruction.
The sheer power of the storm reminded us that we are puny in front of the colossal forces of the nature. We cannot fight them; we can only ride them out.
In this article on Hurricane Andrew facts, we are going to take a quick look at some of the most astonishing facts and figures that may very well take you by absolute surprise.
So, without any further holdup, let us begin…
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 1-5 | Fast Facts
1. Hurricane Andrew was an Atlantic hurricane that was initially categorized as Category 4 hurricane but was later bumped up to Category 5.
2. The storm struck south-central Louisiana, Bahamas and southern Florida in August 1992.
3. When considered in terms of destruction it caused, Hurricane Andrew was the strongest one to hit Florida until that time.
4. When looked into from the angle of financial losses, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest one to hit USA until Hurricane Katrina came in 2005 and surpassed Hurricane Andrew.
5. Louisiana and Bahamas faced a lot of damages but south Florida was the worst hit of all.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 6-22 | How It All Started
6. It started on August 16, 1992 as a tropical depression near Cape Verde islands located off the west coast of Africa.
7. On August 17, the National Hurricane Center of National Weather Service of USA classified the tropical depression as a tropical storm.
8. The storm traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in west-northwest direction. It later however turned northwest and avoided the islands that are located in eastern Caribbean Sea.
9. By August 20, the strength of the storm had significantly declined. Scientists took a measurement near the center of the storm.
10. The measurements revealed that on August 19, the atmospheric pressure of the storm was 1,000 millibars but the next day on August 20, the atmospheric pressure had risen to 1,015 millibars.
In case you didn’t know, the tropical storms and tropical hurricanes possess atmospheric pressure typically below 1,000 millibars.
11. Though there were hopes that the storm will dissipate, that did not happen. Instead, a nearby low-pressure cell fueled the storm and Hurricane Andrew was re-intensified by August 21.
12. On August 22, it became a hurricane and then became a Category 5 storm [on the famous Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale] on August 23.
13. On August 23, the hurricane made a landfall on Bahamas’ Eleuthera. By that time, the storm had acquired a wind speed of 259 km/h [161 miles/h].
14. Hurricane Andrew weakened a bit over the Bahamas. However, by the time it reached over the Straits of Florida, it regained its strength.
15. The hurricane eventually reached Florida’s southern tip in the morning of August 24.
16. Just before the hurricane made a landfall on Florida, scientists dropped dropsonde at the center of the storm using an aircraft.
17. Dropsonde is a small instrument. This instrument recorded the atmospheric pressure of the hurricane and this time, it was 932 millibars.
18. By the time the coat of Florida was hit by Hurricane Andrew, the storm had achieved a wind speed of 268 km/h or 166.8 miles/h.
19. However, scientists did record at least one gust that achieved a speed of 177 miles/h.
20. Finally, Andrew turned west from Florida and traveled across the peninsula to eventually make a landfall in southern Louisiana on August 26.
21. By the time Andrew reached Louisiana, the strength of the storm had decreased and the wind speed was reduced to 115 miles/h or 185 km/h.
22. Despite the decrease in strength, Hurricane Andrew was still a Category 3 storm when it reached Louisiana and caused significant damages.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 23-38 | Effects on the Bahamas
23. It was late August 23, 1992 when Hurricane Andrew made a landfall in the Bahamas’ Eleuthera as a Category 5 hurricane.
24. At that time, the wind speed was 161 miles/h. Early on August 24, 1992, the hurricane passed through southern Berry Islands. This time, the wind speed was 150 miles/h.
25. The island of Eleuthera, which is 1.6 kilometers or 1 mile in width, housed 8,000 people at that time.
26. Before the hurricane arrived, the coastline of island receded nearly 5 kilometers or 3 miles. What followed after that was a storm surge.
27. People described the storm surge as ‘mighty wall of water.’
28. The northwestern part of the island has a small village called The Current. The village recorded a surge of 25 feet or 7.2 meters.
29. More than half of all the houses in the village were completely destroyed. The remaining that stood sustained major or minor damages.
30. The Current Island, which is located nearby, took a significant hit and 24 out of 30 houses were completely destroyed.
31. Hurricane Andrew gave hurricane-force winds. The maximum sustained wind speed was 74 miles/h or 119 km/h.
32. The hurricane-force winds had hit 5 different provinces and Cat Cays. The 5 districts were North Eleuthera, North Andros, New Providence, Berry Islands and Bimini.
33. Not just that, Hurricane Andrew also brought tropical storm force winds seven more districts which include Central Andros, South Abaco, Cat Island and 3 districts in Grand Bahama.
34. The Bahamas in total sustained damages worth USD 250 million in 1992.
35. Total 800 houses were completely destroyed and in total 1,700 people left homeless by the hurricane.
36. 2% of the total places available for rent in the Bahamas were destroyed by the hurricane, severely hurting the tourism industry.
37. Fishing, sanitation, water, agriculture, communications and transport – every sector sustained severe damages.
38. Total 4 people died in the country because of the hurricane. Of these 4 people, 3 casualties were caused directly by the hurricane. Only one died of a heart failure when the storm was passing by.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 39-56 | Effects on Florida
39. In 1992, when the Hurricane Andrew crossed the Bahamas and made a landfall in Florida, two new records were set. They were:
(a) It was the costliest disaster up until then in the history of Florida.
(b) It was the costliest disaster up until then in the history of USA.
40. After leaving the Bahamas, Hurricane Andrew made a landfall near Homestead, Florida on August 24, 1992. At that time, the hurricane was a Category 5 hurricane.
41. When the hurricane was heading towards Florida, it was forecast that in the potential landfall location, there will be tides up to 4.3 meters or 14 feet over and above the normal along Florida’s East Coast.
42. However, the actual storm surge along Florida’s East Coast was 3 meters or 10 feet. Along Biscayne Bay, the storm surge was 4 meters or 13 feet. In Florida’s West Coast, the storm surge was 3.4 meters or 11 feet.
43. Because of the oncoming hurricane, state emergency was declared by Governor Lawton Chiles.
44. Evacuation orders were issued for 9 counties which included Sarasota counties, Palm Beach, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Martin, Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Broward.
45. Nearly 1.2 million people evacuated thereby arresting the fatality numbers.
46. Because of the massive evacuation drives Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 95 saw the biggest traffic ever till 1992. Bumper-to-bumper traffic was 200 miles long.
47. The effects of the hurricane on Florida was catastrophic. However, most of the damage was limited between Kendall south and Key Largo.
48. The reason for such limitation was a very limited and a small wind field for the storm.
49. Because of the storm, 150,000 people lost telephone connectivity and 1.4 million people lost electricity.
50. Hurricane Andrew managed to destroy over 63,000 homes and left 175,000 people homeless.
51. Apart from that, 82,000 businesses, 31 public schools, 9,500 traffic signals, 3,000 watermains, 3,300 miles of powerlines and 32,900 acres of farmlands were damaged or destroyed by the storm.
52. The overall damage caused by the storm was estimated to be 25.3 billion USD (as per 1992 dollar value). Some other estimates say that the damage was 32 billion USD (as currency valuation of 1992).
53. In total 44 people died in Florida because of the storm. Of those 44 deaths, 29 deaths were directly cause by the hurricane and the remaining were indirectly caused by the hurricane.
54. Here is a quick breakup of the damages caused by Hurricane Andrew:
(a) Broward County – 3 fatalities and $100 million in damages (as per 1992 dollar value).
(b) Collier County – 0 fatalities and $30 million in damages (as per 1992 dollar value).
(c) Miami-Dade County – 40 fatalities and $25 billion in damages (as per 1992 dollar value).
(d) Monroe County – 1 fatality and $131 million in damages (as per 1992 dollar value).
Total: 44 deaths and ~25.3 billion USD in damages.
55. In Dade county, agriculture took a massive hit with 85% of the food crops lost.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 57-81 | Effects on Louisiana
57. After Hurricane Andrew had hit Florida, it moved across Gulf of Mexico and made a landfall in south-central Louisiana.
58. At the time of making a landfall, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 115 miles/h or 185 km/h.
59. A fire station located at Berwick took measurements and found that the highest sustained wind speed when the storm was already in Louisiana was 154 km/h or 96 miles/h.
60. The fire station did however measure gusts at 190 km/h or 120 miles/h.
61. In Louisiana, when Hurricane Andrew moved ashore, high storm tides were created which were at least 2.4 meters or 8 feet above the normal tides.
62. Because of the storm tides, the coasts along Vermilion Bay to Lake Borgne were flooded.
63. Because of the storm, 6 Alabama fishermen drowned off Louisiana.
64. As the storm passed through Louisiana, heavy rainfall followed. In Robert (a community in Tangipahoa Parish, Lousiana), rainfall of 280 mm or 11.02 inches was recorded.
65. Before Hurricane Andrew made a landfall in Louisiana, it released an F3 tornado in LaPlace. The result of the tornado was that 32 people were injured and 2 people were killed.
66. This F3 tornado stayed for 10 minutes on the ground and in that short time, it managed to destroy 163 structures. This left 60 families homeless.
67. The parishes of Avoyelles, Pointe Coupee, Iberville and Ascension as well as the capital of Louisiana – Baton Rogue, collectively reported 14 tornadoes.
68. Along the coastline of Louisiana, the damage caused by the hurricane resembled the damage usually caused by a Category 2 hurricane.
69. St. Mary Parish – which is located 51 kilometers or 32 miles east of the location of Andrew’s landfall – was the one which took the maximum damage.
70. In total, 150 million USD (as per 1992 dollar value) worth of property was damaged in St. Mary Parish, out of which 26 schools collectively sustained a damage of USD 2.6 million (as per 1992 dollar value).
71. Throughout St. Mary Parish, 2,028 dwellings were severely damaged, 1,367 dwellings were completely destroyed and 4,770 sustained minor damages.
72. Iberia Parish was the next heavily damaged parish in terms of total property damage, which accounted for USD 125 million collectively.
73. Apart from that, another USD 200 million worth of damage was inflicted on sugar crop in Iberia Parish.
74. Louisiana as a whole saw destruction of 985 homes, destruction of 1,951 mobile homes, damage to 23,000 homes.
75. Total estimated value of private property damage in Louisiana was estimated at USD 1 billion (in 1992 currency valuation).
76. Vast areas of soybean and sugar crops were damaged because of high winds. The estimated value of crop damage was USD 289 million (in 1992 currency valuation).
77. The strong winds managed to leave 230,000 people without any electricity supply.
78. Damaged caused to the fishing industry was estimated at USD 266 million (in 1992 currency valuation).
79. Upwelling was caused in Bayou Lafourche and Atchafalaya Basin because of the storm. This killed 187 million freshwater fish.
80. Total losses sustained by Louisiana stood at USD 1.56 billion (in 1992 currency valuation).
81. Human casualties also happened. Total 17 people died in Louisiana out of which 9 of indirect causes and 8 directly because of the storm. 75 people were also injured by the storm.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: 82-101 | Some Random Facts and Figures
82. Oil companies operating in Gulf of Mexico quickly evacuated their employees working in offshore drilling platforms when Hurricane Andrew was entering Gulf of Mexico from Florida.
83. That did not prevent the storm from causing damage. Andrew managed to topple 33 platforms off Louisiana’s coast. Another 241 gas and oil facilities were damaged.
84. 83 different pipeline segments sustained damages to varying degrees.
85. During the story and the days following that, the oil companies lost USD 12 million per day. Three weeks later, they were sustaining losses to the tune of USD 4 million a day.
86. There was a huge loss in oil production. The loss was to the tune of 240,000 to 270,000 barrels per day. That’s nearly 1/3rd of the total production that takes place in the Gulf of Mexico.
87. In total, oil facilities incurred over USD 500 million in losses.
88. Hurricane Andrew ripped through Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park, knocking down 70,000 acres of mangroves.
89. The wildlife of Florida somehow managed to survive nice and well, especially the alligators. It seemed that the adult alligators were not impacted so much. However, their nests and the young ones did suffer.
90. The wading birds were almost same in number before and after the storm.
91. In Homestead, Florida, 99% of the mobile homes were completely destroyed. Only 9 out of 1,176 mobile homes managed to survive.
92. Hurricane Andrew was responsible for both job loss and job creation. In Miami-Dade, 600 people who worked in agricultural lands lost their jobs. By mid-1993 however, 10,000 new jobs opened up for rebuilding south Florida.
93. After the hurricane left Florida, nearly 20 million cubic yards or 15 million cubic meters of debris was disposed of. All that debris was created by the storm.
94. The storm caused heavy rainfalls. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the rainfall registered was 8 inches. In Hammond, Louisiana, there was 1 foot of rain!
95. Nearly 1/3rd of coral reefs in Biscayne National Park were destroyed by the storm.
96. In Dade county, 90% of native pinelands were destroyed.
97. Off the Louisiana coast, 80% of the oyster reefs were lost.
98. On Louisiana coasts barrier islands, 40 miles of sand was stripped off by the storm, leaving behind an exposed old coastal marsh.
99. A Grand Jury Report came to a conclusion that inadequate building code and inadequate inspections by building officials led to unprecedented damages in area. As a result of this, Florida building code was created in the year 2002.
100. Hurricane Andrew led to heavy insurance claims. This eventually led to closure of large number of insurance agencies.
101. Over 30 insurance agencies were drained of large amounts of equity. Because of this insurance agencies like Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association and Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.
Hurricane Andrew Facts: Damages in Photographs