On this day in 1992, Hurricane Andrew made landfall across Eliott Key into Homestead/Florida City, FL at 4:52am. Originally given a Category 4 rating, it was upgraded to Category 5 status in 2002 after extensive research which amended its previous track and wind speed estimates based on damage. Highest sustained winds were estimated to be around 165mph at landfall. Andrew remains one of only three hurricanes to make US landfall as a Category 5 storm since records have been kept. Andrew’s lowest observed pressure of 922mb was measured shortly after it came onshore and remains the 3rd lowest of any US landfalling hurricane. After crossing over south Florida, Andrew continued across the Gulf of Mexico eventually making landfall on August 26th near Morgan City, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane.
Damage from Andrew across southern Florida, in particular the city of Miami and most of Dade County and southern Broward, was essentially catastrophic. Over 170,000 people were left homeless in Dade county alone, and the damage toll in Florida topped $25 Billion. Storm surge in Biscayne Bay was measured as high as 16.9 feet along the western shoreline in the center of the Bay; however, a large majority of the damage was due to wind and compounded by poor building codes in place at the time. Surprisingly, only 15 died in Florida as a direct result of Andrew although 29 later died as an indirect result. In Louisiana, Andrew caused roughly $1.5 Billion in damages and killed 17 which included 6 offshore drowning deaths. It’s assumed that massive evacuations in both Florida and Louisiana helped keep the death toll in check. Up until 2005, Andrew was considered the costliest US hurricane; however that was surpassed by Hurricane Ike in 2008, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Katrina in 2005.