Hurricane Andrew Strengthens After Ten Years
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It has been ten years since Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. There were a number of events to mark that occasion including Jim Williams live internet broadcast at Hurricane City on August 24th, 2002. 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 NOAA/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.

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 tenth all time among the Atlantic Basin's strongest hurricanes with 165 mph winds. Prior to that, it was 23rd on that list.



Andrew's Upgrade Facts

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 NOAA/National Hurricane Center Best Track Committee, a team of experts on hurricanes that included one of the co-creators of the Saffir-Simpson Scale, Herbert Saffir.

The reason for this conclusion was that recent research had revealed that Andrew had sustained winds that were 20 mph stronger than originally recorded at landfall. Instead of 145 mph winds buffeting the barrier islands around Biscayne Bay, the winds were now measured to be 165 mph, which brought Andrew above the Category Five Hurricane threshold.

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. Andrew also made the jump from 23rd to tenth all-time among the strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin


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How Andrew Ranks All-Time Now

As a result of this finding, Hurricane Andrew became the third strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States. Its winds of 165 mph at landfall only put it behind the Labor Day Hurricane (200 mph) and Hurricane Camille (180 mph).

It also makes the storm tenth 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).

Prior to its upgrade, it had been ranked 23rd on the all-time list behind other hurricanes such as Hugo (1989), which were actually weaker than Andrew originally was at landfall. Andrew had one of the highest storm surges in Florida history with nearly a 17 ft surge in Biscayne Bay upon landfall.

Some critics disagreed with the findings despite the fact that everyone agrees that Andrew was a memorable storm. The amazing thing about this storm is that it did not get enough media coverage nationally as it should have, and many throughout coastal regions in the United States haven't learned from that catastrophic experience.


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Findings Impact on Andrew's Legacy

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.


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