(WSVN) – It has been 30 years since Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida. We built back bigger, stronger and now we are safer thanks to lessons learned from the historic storm. 7’s chief meteorologist Phil Ferro takes a look at the forecasting changes since that devastating day in 1992.
Two days before Andrew slammed into Southern Miami-Dade County, people along 443 miles of Florida’s East Coast were warned to be ready for the monster storm.
7News, 1992: “As we take a look at the hurricane watch, it does extend from the Dry Tortugas to Titusville.”
A huge area but, back then, scientists didn’t have the tools to better predict where Andrew would hit.
Dr. Jack Bevin, Senior Storm Specialist, National Hurricane Center: “In 1992, we were only making three-day forecasts.”
Check this out, back in 1992, this was the predicted three-day track for a hurricane.
It’s a large area, and scientists could only say the storm would hit somewhere in here.
If they would have used the cone of concern, it would have looked something like this.
Now, compare that to today, this little circle represents where the cone would be focused three days out from a storm making landfall.
This tighter cone is the result of new technology that gives forecasters a better understanding of how hurricanes work.
Here’s another example of how far forecasting has come.
This is the track scientists can currently study when a storm is three days away from landfall, and this is technology they had when Andrew was one day away from landfall in 1992, which means we now know days earlier where a storm is going to hit.
And that means people are now getting earlier and better warnings so they can prepare.
Dr. Jack Bevin: “Now we are issuing watches 48 hours in advance and warnings 36 hours in advance as compared to back in 1992.”
Dr. Jack Bevin is now a senior storm specialist for the NHC.
He was just an intern during Andrew.
Dr. Jack Bevin: “I was getting my Ph.D. at Florida State and doing intern work at the Hurricane Center.”
He has been on the front lines to see all of the changes, which have led to better and more accurate forecasts today.
Dr. Jack Bevin: “We got these new fancier dropsondes in, start throwing them out into the strongest part of the hurricane eyewall and made some very interesting discoveries about how the hurricane worked.”
But when Andrew hit, scientists could only measure wind speed at 10,000 feet above ground.
Now ,the dropsondes allow them to check wind speed in the actual eye of the storm.
Hurricane Hunter Pineda: “This is the transmitter right here that sends all the data back to the aircraft.”
Another big advancement: weather satellites that can take pictures above a hurricane every 30 seconds.
Dr. Jack Bevin: “You put it all together, we have improved our capabilities a lot, of monitoring the storm, tracking the storm and forecasting the storm.”
The Hurricane Center is now actively working on seven day forecasts. We don’t know yet when those will start being issued.
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