Hurricane Andrew of 1992 caused unprecedented economic devastation along its path through the Bahamas, southeastern Florida, and Louisiana. Damage in the United States was estimated to be $26 billion (in 1992 dollars), making Andrew one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history. This hurricane struck southeastern Florida with maximum 1-min surface winds estimated in a 1992 poststorm analysis at 125 kt (64 m s−1). This original assessment was primarily based on an adjustment of aircraft reconnaissance flight-level winds to the surface.

Based on recent advancements in the understanding of the eyewall wind structure of major hurricanes, the official intensity of Andrew was adjusted upward for five days during its track across the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico by the National Hurricane Center Best Track Change Committee. In particular, Andrew is now assessed by the National Hurricane Center to be a Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale category-5 hurricane (the highest intensity category possible) at its landfall in southeastern Florida, with maximum 1-min winds of 145 kt (75 m s−1). This makes Andrew only the third category-5 hurricane to strike the United States since at least 1900. Implications for how this change impacts society's planning for such extreme events are discussed.

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Footnotes

NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida

NOAA/NWS/TPC/National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida

CIMAS, University of Miami, and NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division, Miami, Florida