Q:

How did Hurricane Andrew start?

A:

Quick Answer

Hurricane Andrew began as a tropical wave that crossed the west coast of Africa into the tropical North Atlantic on August 14, 1992. Two days later, after it passed just south of the Cape Verde islands, the wave became a tropical depression. Tropical Storm Andrew formed August 17 and became a hurricane three days later due to vertical wind shear. The hurricane caused 23 deaths in the United States.

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Full Answer

Hurricane Andrew was slow to develop once it became a tropical storm, according to the National Weather Service. It moved west-northwest toward the Lesser Antilles at about 20 knots. Winds pushed the storm to the north of these islands, and the top winds were still not enough to make it hurricane strength. On August 21, 1992, winds causing the vertical shear suddenly moved north, and Andrew quickly grew from a tropical storm to a Category three hurricane in the span of three days.

The powerful hurricane hit Dade County, Florida on August 24 as a Category four storm. It then passed into the Gulf of Mexico and weakened to a Category three before turning north toward the central Louisiana coast on August 26. Winds were so powerful in Florida that they destroyed anemometers at weather stations. Low pressure readings of 27.23 inches made Hurricane Andrew the third most intense hurricane to hit the United States, as of July 2014.

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