• Bryan Norcross

HURRICANE ANDREW TIMELINE – 8 DAYS FROM LANDFALL + A system to watch in the Caribbean

It was 11:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, August 16, 1992, 30 years ago this evening, that National Hurricane Center forecaster Max Mayfield wrote the first advisory on new Tropical Depression THREE. The disturbance that moved off Africa two days before had finally shown signs of enough organization during the day to warrant its upgrade to a depression. Top winds were estimated at 35 mph.

The system was forecast to reach tropical-storm strength the next day, but only slowly intensify. Hostile upper-level winds were expected to impact the system for the next three days – as far into the future as forecasts were made at that time.

In the non-public Technical Discussion that was issued with the Public Advisory, Mayfield noted that the system could intensify more rapidly if the upper-level winds were weaker than forecast. That eventually happened, but not until much later in the week.

In South Florida, we weren't worried. In fact, we barely noticed the system at all. As it turned out, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew would make landfall 7 days and 6 hours later just east of Homestead, a little less than 20 miles south of downtown Miami.

Now in 2022, the National Hurricane Center is making note of a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean that could trigger a tropical depression in the far southern Gulf of Mexico at the end of the week. The curved Mexican coastline in the southern Gulf can help systems spin up if other conditions are met.

It appears the system will arrive in the Gulf about Friday, and only have a couple of days over the warm Gulf water before it moves inland over Mexico or South Texas. The upper-level winds are forecast to be reasonably conducive for development, but dry air and its short time over the water would seem to be limiting factors. At this point, the NHC is giving the disturbance a slight chance of developing into a tropical depression before it moves inland.

In the tropical Atlantic, nothing is developing yet, but long-range computer models are giving some indication of tropical activity in a week or so. On average, the odds of a tropical storm or hurricane developing increase significantly around August 20th. So it would be normal for activity to pick up next week plus or minus.