Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Remember what Hurricane Andrew taught us

It had been a quiet season. Experts, in fact, would later describe the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season as largely inactive.

Except for Andrew.

On Aug. 23, all of Florida, and indeed much of the nation, held its breath as the only major hurricane of the year, a Category 5 monster with winds exceeding 150 mph, bore down on south Florida.

Forecasters predicted the worst, and Andrew did not disappoint.

After striking the northwestern Bahamas, the storm devastated Homestead, just south of Miami, then continued northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to strike the southwest Louisiana coast.

The toll: 15 deaths directly from Andrew, 25 deaths indirectly, $30 billion in property damage, 250,000 left homeless, 82,000 businesses damaged or destroyed.

So devastating was Andrew that it dramatically shifted the way we look at construction, insurance, emergency response and even forecasting.

Without experiencing such a storm, it would be difficult to understand its sheer power and ruin. But as we begin the 2012 hurricane season, with no major storm striking the United States in the past seven years, the legacy of Andrew serves as a powerful reminder of the need to prepare, stay alert and evacuate if you must.

Pat Farnan, assistant managing editor

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