Early in the morning on August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew made its first U.S. landfall along the eastern coast of the Florida Peninsula. In Dade County, Florida alone, Andrew’s fierce winds damaged or destroyed 125,000 homes, leaving at least 160,000 people homeless. By the time the storm dissipated, it had also caused the deaths of over 60 people.
Initially rated as a Category 4, but later upgraded to a Category 5 storm, Andrew joined Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 as one of only three Category 5 hurricanes to impact the U.S. mainland. Hurricane Andrew also remains the third most costly tropical system to impact the United States since 1980, causing $47.8 billion in damages in present-day dollars.
As Andrew approached the U.S. coast, massive evacuations were ordered in both Florida and Louisiana, where the storm made its second landfall. Over 1.2 million people are estimated to have evacuated from Florida, with another 1.25 million evacuating from Louisiana and 250,000 from Texas.
While very unfortunate, the loss of life due to Andrew was far less than had previously occurred during hurricanes of comparable strength—especially given the tremendous structural damage Andrew caused. A combination of good hurricane preparedness and evacuation programs likely helped minimize the loss of life. The lives saved during Andrew serve as testimony to the success and importance of these coordinated programs.
Staying Safe As Hurricanes Approach Where You Live
As Andrew and many others have demonstrated, hurricanes are among nature's most powerful and destructive phenomena. NOAA and NCEI provide a variety of resources to help you stay safe and be prepared.
- Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources
One of the best ways to stay safe during a hurricane is to plan ahead. NOAA’s National Weather Services has a variety of resources to help you know if you’re at risk, put together an emergency kit, create a family emergency plan, and better understand alerts, watches, and warnings.
- Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches, Warnings, Advisories, and Outlooks
Whenever a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane has formed in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone advisory products at least every 6 hours.
- NOAA Extreme Weather Information Sheets
The NOAA Extreme Weather Information Sheets, or NEWIS, are two-page reference sheets containing local, state, and federal phone numbers and websites in case of emergency. NEWIS are available for coastal regions that are particularly at risk from tropical storms and hurricanes—from Texas to North Carolina as well as in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Download the NOAA Extreme Weather Information Sheets iOS App
NEWIS is also available as a free app compatible with Apple devices such as iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Analyzing Past Tropical Cyclones to Better Predict Future Risk
Another way NOAA and NCEI help you prepare for hurricanes is by examining climatological data. By collecting and examining these data, scientists can characterize aspects of average hurricane seasons, examine changes in frequency and intensity, and better predict future risk.
- International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship
This database, also known as IBTrACS, stores information for all known tropical cyclones recorded since the 1850s.
- Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
Our U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters data and information provides information on direct economic losses, deaths, and other impacts for numerous weather and climate disasters including tropical cyclones.
- Storm Events Database
The Storm Events Database contains data and information collected by the National Weather Service during hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and other severe weather.
- Special Reports on Extreme Climate Events
This searchable interface provides access to many of our historical special reports and publications on extreme events like hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and flooding.
The CycloneCenter project invites citizen scientists to help climatologists create a new database of information about tropical cyclones.