Hurricanes are notoriously capricious. Andrew was a compact system. A little larger
system, or one making landfall just a few nautical miles further to the north, would have
been catastrophic for heavily populated, highly commercialized and no less vulnerable
areas to the north. That area includes downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and
Fort Lauderdale. Andrew also left the highly vulnerable New Orleans region relatively
Andrew moved nearly due westward when over land and crossed the extreme
southern portion of the Florida peninsula in about four hours. Although the hurricane
weakened about one category on the during the transit over land, and the pressure rose to
about 950 mb, Andrew was still a major hurricane when its eyewall passed over the
extreme southwestern Florida coast. The first of two cycles of modest intensification
commenced when the eye reached the Gulf of Mexico. Also, the hurricane continued to
move at a relatively fast pace while its track gradually turned toward the west-northwest.
When Andrew reached the north-central Gulf of Mexico, the high pressure system to its
northeast weakened and a strong mid-latitude trough approached the area from the
northwest. Steering currents began to change.
Andrew turned toward the northwest and
its forward speed decreased to about 8 kt. The hurricane struck a sparsely populated
section of the south-central Louisiana on the 26th. The landfall location is about 20 n mi
west-southwest of Morgan City.
Andrew dropped sufficient rain to cause local floods even though the hurricane
was relatively small and generally moved rather fast. Rainfall totals in excess of seven
inches were recorded in southeast Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Rainfall amounts
near five inches occurred in several neighboring states.
Hammond, Louisiana reported the
highest total, 11.92 inches. The number of deaths directly attributed to Andrew is 26. The
additional indirect loss of life brought the death toll to 65. A combination of good
hurricane preparedness and evacuation programs likely helped minimize the loss of life.
Nevertheless, the fact that no lives were lost in the United States due to storm surge is
viewed as a fortunate aberration.
Damage is estimated at $25 billion. Andrew’s impact on southern Dade County,
Florida was extreme from the Kendall district southward through Homestead and Florida
City, to near Key Largo. Andrew reportedly destroyed 25,524 homes and damaged
101,241 others. The Dade County Grand Jury reported that ninety percent of all mobile
homes in south Dade County were totally destroyed. In Homestead, more than 99% (1167
of 1176) of all mobile homes were completely destroyed. The Miami Herald reported half
a billion in losses to boats in southeast Florida.
The damage to Louisiana is estimated at $1
billion. Damage in the Bahamas has been estimated at quarter of a billion. Damage in the
Gulf of Mexico is preliminarily estimated at half a billion. Ocean Oil reported the following
in the Gulf of Mexico: 13 toppled platforms, five leaning platforms, 21 toppled satellites,
23 leaning satellites, 104 incidents of structural damage, seven incidents of pollution, two
fires, and five drilling wells blown off location. Andrew whipped up powerful seas which
extensively damaged many offshore structures, including the artificial reef system of
southeast Florida. For example, the Belzona Barge is a 215 ft, 350-ton barge that, prior to
Andrew, was sitting in 68 ft of water on the ocean floor.
One thousand tons of concrete
from the old Card Sound bridge lay on the deck. The hurricane moved the barge 700 ft to
the west (50-100 tons of concrete remain on deck) and removed several large sections of
steel plate sidings. .