Hurricanes are notoriously capricious.
Andrew was a compact system. A little largersystem, or one making landfall just a few nautical miles further to the north, would havebeen catastrophic for heavily populated, highly commercialized and no less vulnerableareas to the north. That area includes downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne andFort Lauderdale. Andrew also left the highly vulnerable New Orleans region relativelyunscathed.
Andrew moved nearly due westward when over land and crossed the extremesouthern portion of the Florida peninsula in about four hours. Although the hurricaneweakened about one category on the during the transit over land, and the pressure rose toabout 950 mb, Andrew was still a major hurricane when its eyewall passed over theextreme southwestern Florida coast. The first of two cycles of modest intensificationcommenced when the eye reached the Gulf of Mexico. Also, the hurricane continued tomove 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 itsnortheast weakened and a strong mid-latitude trough approached the area from thenorthwest. Steering currents began to change.Order now
Andrew turned toward the northwest andits forward speed decreased to about 8 kt. The hurricane struck a sparsely populatedsection of the south-central Louisiana on the 26th. The landfall location is about 20 n miwest-southwest of Morgan City. Andrew dropped sufficient rain to cause local floods even though the hurricanewas relatively small and generally moved rather fast. Rainfall totals in excess of seveninches were recorded in southeast Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Rainfall amountsnear five inches occurred in several neighboring states.
Hammond, Louisiana reported thehighest total, 11. 92 inches. The number of deaths directly attributed to Andrew is 26. Theadditional indirect loss of life brought the death toll to 65. A combination of goodhurricane 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 isviewed 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 FloridaCity, to near Key Largo. Andrew reportedly destroyed 25,524 homes and damaged101,241 others.
The Dade County Grand Jury reported that ninety percent of all mobilehomes in south Dade County were totally destroyed. In Homestead, more than 99% (1167of 1176) of all mobile homes were completely destroyed. The Miami Herald reported halfa billion in losses to boats in southeast Florida. The damage to Louisiana is estimated at $1billion. Damage in the Bahamas has been estimated at quarter of a billion. Damage in theGulf of Mexico is preliminarily estimated at half a billion.
Ocean Oil reported the followingin 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, twofires, and five drilling wells blown off location. Andrew whipped up powerful seas whichextensively damaged many offshore structures, including the artificial reef system ofsoutheast Florida. For example, the Belzona Barge is a 215 ft, 350-ton barge that, prior toAndrew, was sitting in 68 ft of water on the ocean floor. One thousand tons of concretefrom the old Card Sound bridge lay on the deck.
The hurricane moved the barge 700 ft tothe west (50-100 tons of concrete remain on deck) and removed several large sections ofsteel plate sidings. .