August 24, 1992 dramatically changed the lives of South Florida residents. Back then, there were no “WeatherBell” or “TropicalTidbits.” The spaghetti models were being tested, but not heavily relied on. All the meteorologists really had at this time was the National Hurricane Center and the official forecast track.
On Saturday, August 22, 1992, Andrew becomes a Hurricane, 800 miles east of Miami, Florida. The spaghetti models 72 hours out showed landfall somewhere on the Southeast Florida coast. Again, NOAA and the National Hurricane Center had just begun testing the spaghetti models. Although they were taken into consideration, they were not heavily relied on like they are today. The cone of uncertainty was very large for being three days out – roughly 340 miles, which is about the distance from Jacksonville, Florida to the Florida Keys.
Andrew kept leaning on the “left” side of the official National Hurricane Center forecast track. Strengthening high pressure to the north was doing two things, 1. increasing the forward motion speed, 2. keeping Andrew further to the south. By 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, a Hurricane Watch was issued for the Florida East Coast from Titusville southward through the Florida Keys. Andrew now had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph with the National Hurricane Center pointing out that “additional strengthing is possible.”
On August 24, 1992, Andrew became a powerful Category 5 hurricane while moving westward towards the Bahamas. Although Andrew briefly weakened to a Category 4 while moving through the Bahamas, it would regain Category 5 strength before making landfall near Homestead, Florida during the early morning hours of August 24, 1992.
Hurricane Andrew was the strongest and most devastating hurricane on record to hit southern Florida. When it made landfall, Andrew was a Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 165 mph and a minimum central pressure of 922 millibars. About 250,000 people were left homeless in Dade County alone.
Hurricane Andrew crossed into the Gulf of Mexico and made another landfall near Morgan City, Louisiana on August 26 as a Category 3 Hurricane. In total, Andrew destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others, caused $27.3 billion in damage (equivalent to $53 billion in 2021), and left 65 people dead.
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