On August 16 1992, the Bahamas and the United States were about to be hit by Hurricane Andrew.
The 1992 Atlantic hurricane season was actually recorded as below average, prior to Hurricane Andrew there had only been three other much smaller scale hurricanes. So this mega storm swept in as somewhat of an unwelcome surprise.
We have rounded up some key facts and figures to help build a picture of what actually happened when Hurricane Andrew swept its way across the States. Pictures of Hurricane Andrew show the aftermath of the chaos and devastation, it's sometimes hard to believe what nature is capable of but check out these facts and stats and see for yourself.
Fast Facts About Hurricanes
So what is a hurricane? Check out these quick facts to learn about how severe storms like the hurricane in 1992, can be measured and predicted.
1. A hurricane is a tropical storm that begins life at sea, forming over warm waters. Hurricanes are characterized by sustained winds of at least 74 mph (119 km/h), and a central area of very low pressure known as the eye.
2. Hurricanes are measured using the Hurricane Severity Index, or HSI. This a scientific rating system which uses equations based on the intensity of the winds and the size of the area the winds cover, in order to determine the strength and destructive capability of a storm.
3. By measuring the size of the storm using the HSI, meteorologists can accurately predict many factors of the hurricane such as the duration of the event, the amount of rainfall, potential storm surge size and the offshore wave heights.
4. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale estimates potential property damage using a one to five rating, based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. Category one and two storms will require some preventative measures, but category three and four will be a major hurricane, and for a category five hurricane catastrophic damage is predicted.
Facts About Hurricane Andrew
Check out these totally extreme Hurricane Andrew stats, and see how full on the Hurricane Andrew destruction really was.
5. The early stages of the storm that would become Hurricane Andrew began on August 16, 1992, with a tropical wave moving from the west coast of Africa towards the south of Cape Verde Islands. Meteorologists were on high alert, assuming it would be developing into something more severe.
6. In the United States, a strong high pressure cell began to build eastward and this caused the storm to begin moving west. The eye of the storm had gathered strength that it obtained an official name: Andrew.
7. The areas affected by Hurricane Andrew were The Bahamas, followed by South Florida, Louisiana and the South Eastern and Mid Atlantic United States.
8. Most hurricanes create their damage through a combination of storm surges and high winds, Hurricane Andrew caused its devastation almost completely through high winds.
9. The highest one minute sustained winds that Hurricane Andrew reached were 175 mph (280 km/h).
10. It was estimated that the Hurricane Andrew storm surge reached over 16+ feet above normal tide levels.
11. Hurricane Andrew reached a 27 out of 50 on the Hurricane Severity Index, with 11 points for intensity and 16 points for size.
12. On the Saffir Simpson Rating, Hurricane Andrew reached was rated a category five hurricane, the most severe.
13. When hurricanes reach land, the winds close to the ground can alter their speed, and create a spinning movement known as a wind shear. The convective cells of the hurricane continue to create strong updrafts and as the spinning air is turned upright, a tornado is created.
14. It has been estimated that Hurricane Andrew spawned as many as 28 or more tornadoes in the time between forming and dissipating.
15. The two most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States were the 1935 Florida Keys Hurricane, and 1969 Hurricane Camille. Hurricane Andrew became the third most powerful hurricane of the 20th century.
16. The National Hurricane Center is actually located in Miami, Florida but due to the extreme Hurricane Andrew wind speed, many of the instruments crucial for monitoring the storm from this National Hurricane Center, were destroyed.
17. Hurricane Andrew caused between 23 and 37 billion dollars worth of damage, at the time this was the costliest Atlantic hurricane the United States had ever seen. In the coming years this record would go on to be broken by Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Wilma.
18. By 29 August 1992, Hurricane Andrew had dissipated, leaving in its wake a staggering amount of destruction.
Consequences On The Population
At this point in history, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest hurricane to hit the United States, and it also caused major damage to the Bahamas. Hurricane Andrew fatalities reached a total of 65, this is a relatively low for a category five hurricane but deeply tragic nonetheless.
19. The first location caught in the path of Hurricane Andrew was the Bahamas, four people lost their lives here due to the hurricane.
20. Hurricane Andrew destroyed 800 homes, leaving 1,700 people homeless. It was estimated at the time that the Hurricane cost the Bahamas 250 million dollars in damage.
21. In the United States, Dade County in south Florida suffered the highest amount of fatalities, losing 40 people as a result of the hurricane.
22. At the height of the Hurricane around 1. 4 million people lost power in their homes, 150,000 were without telephone service.
23. Of all of the Hurricane Andrew affected areas, the vast majority of damage to homes was in Dade County, south Florida, with 63,000 homes completely destroyed and a further 101,241 damaged. The impact of Hurricane Andrew also left around 250,000 people homeless.
24. So many buildings in Florida were either damaged beyond repair or completely obliterated by Hurricane Andrew, this led to the questioning of many building codes. Shockingly it turned out that many strict building codes had been being either ignored or overlooked, but no criminal charges were able to be issued due to lack of evidence!
25. The damage from Hurricane Andrew in Florida alone amounted to a total cost of 27.5 billion dollars.
26. In Louisiana the hurricane caused the deaths of 17 people.
27. Homes in Louisiana did not fare much better in the storm than Florida. The hurricane destroyed 985 homes, 1951 mobile homes and damaged a further 23,000. Property losses alone in Louisiana amounted to over 1.5 billion dollars.
28. Andrew was the seventh costliest Atlantic Hurricane ever to hit the States. Considering the Hurricane Andrew damages amounted to costs of 27.5 billion dollars, it is hard to image the destruction the other six must have unleashed upon the country.
29. Because of the sheer amount of damage and loss of life caused by this storm, it was decided in the spring of 1993 that Hurricane Andrew, 1992 would be the last of this name. Andrew was retired from the Atlantic tropical cyclones list of names.
Environmental Damage And Impact
We know that the Hurricane Andrew damage cost millions, even billions in terms of home and businesses, but what about the environmental cost of the storm?
30. In part of the Atchafalaya River Basin near the coast of Louisiana, this mega storm managed to knock down 80% of the trees in no time at all.
31. Throughout the basin and Bayou Lafourche, 187 million freshwater fish were killed in the hurricane. Large areas of marshland were also badly damaged along the Louisiana coast.
32. In south Florida, it was estimated that 70,000 acres of trees in the Everglades had been knocked down by Hurricane Andrew. It took 20 days after the storms had passed for any new vegetation to begin to grow back.
33. The marine life in Florida was also harmed due to the storm, as it lowered the oxygen level in the water. Just like Louisiana, Florida took a financial hit from the loss of 182 million fish being killed by Hurricane Andrew, $160 million dollars.
34. One of the most unexpected terrifying repercussions of Hurricane Andrew's reign of destruction has been the huge increase of Burmese pythons in the Everglades. Hurricane Andrew swept in and took the roof off of a breeding facility for these massive snakes, and hundreds escaped.
35. As Hurricane Andrew passed through Dade County, it is believed that thousands of exotic specimens escaped to the Everglades and, with no natural predators, have flourished in the ecosystem there ever since.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy. If you found our Hurricane Andrew facts and information interesting, then why not take a look at these blue crab facts or Poseidon facts?
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