Hurricane Andrew was a powerful and destructive Category 5 hurricane that struck the Bahamas, Florida and Louisiana in August 1992. It is the most destructive hurricane to ever hit Florida in terms of structures damaged or destroyed, and was the costliest in financial terms until Hurricane Irma surpassed it 25 years later. It was the strongest landfalling hurricane in decades and the costliest hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the United States, until it was surpassed by Katrina in 2005. In addition, Andrew is one of only four Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the United States. Andrew caused major damage in the Bahamas and Louisiana, but the greatest impact was felt in South Florida, where the storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained wind speeds as high as 165 mph. Passing directly through the city of Homestead south of Miami, Andrew stripped many homes of all but their concrete foundations. In total, Andrew destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others, caused $27.3 billion in damage, and left 65 people dead. Andrew began as a tropical depression over the eastern Atlantic Ocean on August 16. After spending a week without significantly strengthening itself in the central Atlantic, it rapidly intensified into a powerful Category 5 hurricane while moving westward towards the Bahamas on August 23. Though it briefly weakened to Category 4 status while traversing the Bahamas, it regained Category 5 intensity before making landfall in Florida on Elliot Key and then Homestead on August 24 1992. With a barometric pressure of 27.23’ of mercury at the time of landfall in Florida, Andrew is the sixth most-intense hurricane to strike the United States. Several hours later, the hurricane emerged over the Gulf of Mexico at Category 4 strength. After turning northwestward and weakening further, Andrew moved ashore near Morgan City Louisiana, as a low-end Category 3 storm. After moving inland, the small hurricane curved northeastward and rapidly lost its intensity. Andrew first inflicted structural damage as it moved through the Bahamas, lashing the islands. About 800 houses were destroyed, and there was substantial damage to the transport, water, sanitation, agriculture, and fishing sectors. Andrew left four dead and $250 million in damage throughout the Bahamas. In parts of southern Florida, Andrew produced severe winds; a wind gust of 177 mph was observed. The cities of Florida City and Homestead received the brunt of the storm. As many as 1.4 million people lost power at the height of the storm; some for more than one month. In the Everglades, 70,000 acres of trees were downed. Rainfall in Florida was substantial, peaking at 13.98 inches in western Dade County. In Florida, Andrew killed 44 and left a record $25 billion in damage. Prior to making landfall in Louisiana on August 26, Andrew caused extensive damage to oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to $500 million in losses for oil companies. It produced hurricane-force winds along its path through Louisiana, damaging large stretches of power lines that left about 230,000 people without electricity. Over 80% of trees in the Atchafalaya River basin were downed, and the agriculture there was devastated. 23,000 houses damaged, 985 others destroyed, and 1,951 mobile homes demolished, property losses in Louisiana exceeded $1.5 billion. The hurricane caused the deaths of 17 people in the state. Andrew spawned at least 28 tornadoes along the Gulf Coast. In total, Andrew left 65 dead and caused $27.3 billion in damage.
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