Florida is a veritable magnet for hurricanes. This is the result of the fact that it is near the tropics and westerly winds blow off the African coasts along the equator.
Of all recorded hurricanes to hit the US since 1851, 36% have made landfall in Florida.
While longtime Florida residents will debate the question of which was the worst hurricane to hit Florida, most would agree that Andrew is a top contender. Although experts are usually able to track storms for days and even weeks, predicting its landfall well ahead of the event, this storm was different. It intensified so quickly and its patch was so unpredictable that South Florida had only about 20 hours before it made landfall.
Making landfall in 1992 with winds topping 160 mph, Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida and, directly or indirectly, killed 65 people according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
By the time Andrew was done, it had become the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. Andrew alone managed to cause more property damage than Agnes, Betsy and Hugo combined. Twenty-three died as a result of Andrew’s fury.
Andrew was considered small by hurricane standards but it was ferocious. Before making landfall in Dade County Florida, the hurricane began by ripping through the Bahamas with 150 mph winds devastating the islands and killing three people. By the next day, Andrew had arrived in Dade Country. It cut a devastating path of destruction, flattening houses, toppling palm trees, and leaving thousands of residents homeless and forcing them to evacuate.
Andrew single-handedly destroyed 80 percent of the taxable real estate in Florida City, FL.
Andrew was a category 4 hurricane with a central pressure of 922 millibars. To put this in perspective, it is the third lowest measurement for a hurricane hitting the United States.
10 years later, the National Hurricane Center took another look at Andrew and upgraded the system to a Category 5.
By the time it had moved out into the Gulf, Andrew had killed 15 people in Dade County alone and left an estimated 250,000 people homeless.
After blazing through Miami-Dade County, Andrew quickly moved out into the Gulf and proceeded to hit a sparsely populated section of the south-central Louisiana Gulf Coast west of New Orleans.
Areas that were not directly hit by the hurricane were terrorized by dozens of tornadoes spun off by Andrew.
Because of its shocking destruction, South Florida upgraded its building codes, and those became the toughest in the state. Andrew is looked upon by emergency managers as a prime example of why residents need to be prepared for any tropical system moving into their area.