Hurricane Andrew was stronger than we thought, say experts
It has been 19 years since Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. Yet the storm still remains etched in people’s minds all across South Florida ten years after it became the costliest natural disaster in United States history with almost $30 billion dollars in damage.
Recently, however, a committee called the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration/National Hurricane Center Best Track Committee, a team of hurricane experts, which included Herbert Saffir, a structural engineer that co-authored the Saffir-Simpson Scale, concluded that Andrew was even stronger at landfall than we realized.
The experts concluded that with the latest research, Andrew had winds that were 20 mph faster at landfall in a small area in Biscayne Bay. With that, Andrew jumped to 10th all time among the Atlantic Basin’s strongest hurricanes with 165 mph winds. Prior to that, it was 23rd on that list.
Three days prior to the ten-year anniversary of Andrew’s devastating impact on South Florida, NOAA issued a press release stating that after ten years, Hurricane Andrew had grown in intensity from a Category Four to a Category Five Hurricane. This upgrade was based on the conclusions made by the NOAA/National Hurricane Center Best Track Committee, As a result, Andrew became only the third Category Five Hurricane to make landfall in the United States. The other two were the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, and Hurricane Camille in 1969.
It also makes the storm 10th on the all-time list of most powerful hurricanes ever in the Atlantic Basin. That list includes the likes of Hurricane Allen (1980), Hurricane Janet (1955), Hurricane Gilbert (1988), Hurricane Carla (1961), Hurricane David (1979) and Hurricane Anita (1977).
The impact of the recent findings and recommendations of this committee definitely adds another layer to the legacy that was Hurricane Andrew. It is just another reason to keep Andrew firmly entrenched in our minds when it comes to memorable hurricanes and natural disasters.
It forever changed the physical, social, economic, and political landscape in Florida, and even nationally as well. More importantly, though, Andrew along with Hugo will forever stay etched in our minds because of the technological advances in media such as television.
The next major hurricane to make landfall, and have similar devastating effects on a United States coastal community will be even more memorable since the explosion of the Internet, cable, and satellite mediums since Hugo and Andrew.
The next big storm will be another event that will affect everyone in this globally interconnected world we live in today.