Harvey coincides with 2 hurricane anniversaries - WNEM TV 5

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Harvey coincides with 2 hurricane anniversaries

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Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Andrew at the time of landfall - August 24, 1992. Source: National Weather Service Satellite Imagery of Hurricane Andrew at the time of landfall - August 24, 1992. Source: National Weather Service
Mobile home park destroyed by Hurricane Andrew. Mobile home park destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.
Satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina at peak intensity over the Gulf of Mexico. Source: National Weather Service Satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina at peak intensity over the Gulf of Mexico. Source: National Weather Service
Flooding damage in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Flooding damage in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Tropical Storm Harvey's assault continues across parts of Texas and Louisiana, where rainfall in some areas is closing in on 40" since Friday. Harvey's development comes as we approach the average peak of hurricane season in early September, the time of year when tropical activity tends to ramp up across the Atlantic Ocean. 

While Harvey's slow-moving disaster has been making headlines, it's landfall is also flanked by the anniversaries of two of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history.

Hurricane Andrew

One of the quintessential hurricanes of our time, August 24 marked 25 years since Hurricane Andrew made landfall in south Florida. The storm began as a tropical depression in the eastern Atlantic Ocean on August 16, 1992, and was named as a tropical storm the next day as it continued to move west. The system hung on for just about a week before undergoing explosive intensification near the Bahamas.

Andrew became a hurricane in the early hours of August 22, 1992 and reached Category 5 strength the next day when maximum sustained of 175 mph were observed within the storm's eye wall (the most intense central core of thunderstorms that surrounds the center of circulation). Some weakening was observed as Andrew crossed through the Bahamas late August 23, but the storm remained an intense Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph.

As it crossed over the warm water of the Gulf Stream between the Bahamas and Florida, Andrew regained some of its strength. Landfall occurred in Elliot Key and Homestead, FL in the early morning hours of August 24 as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 165 mph.

It took Andrew's eye only 4 hours to cross Florida and re-emerge into the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continued off toward the northwest for the next day-and-a-half, and made its second U.S. landfall in southern Louisiana on August 26, 1992. A Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds at that time, it quickly weakened to a remnant low and dissipated on August 28.

Andrew laid waste to entire communities, and caused an estimated $26.5 billion in damage in the United States alone. At that time, it ranked as the costliest hurricane to ever strike the U.S. but now ranks 4th behind Ike (2008), Sandy (2012), and Katrina (2005). 65 people lost their lives in the storm.

Hurricane Katrina

Thursday marks the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in southeast Louisiana. Similar to Andrew, the storm made landfall in both Florida and Louisiana, but the devastation left behind was vastly different.

Katrina developed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, becoming the twelfth tropical depression of the season. By the next morning, it became a tropical storm and went on to become a hurricane only a day later, and just two hours before making landfall near Hallandale Beach, Florida. Brief weakening occurred as the system crossed Florida, but it regained hurricane strength just an hour after re-emerging into the Gulf of Mexico.

In August 27, Katrina became the third major hurricane (Category 3 or greater) of the 2005 season. Now a Category 3 hurricane, the storm had also doubled in size as it began to set its sights on Louisiana. 

Katrina reached Category 5 strength on the morning of August 28, taking only 9 hours to make the jump from Category 3 strength. Maximum sustained winds peaked at 175 mph that afternoon. This made it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, but was unseated less than a month later by Hurricane Rita.

Radar imagery showing Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. Source: National Weather Service

Katrina weakened a bit before making landfall in southeast Louisiana on the morning of August 29, 2005, but still came ashore as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph. Unlike Andrew, Katrina had some staying power after landfall, maintaining hurricane strength a full 150 miles inland through Meridian, Mississippi. It remained a tropical storm through Tennessee, and its last remnants were observed in the eastern Great Lakes before being absorbed into a cold front on August 31.

While Katrina did cause substantial damage in southern Florida, its effects in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were nothing short of catastrophic. Katrina's sheer power and incredible size resulted in a storm surge that was felt from the Florida panhandle to Louisiana, bringing gulf water 6-12 miles inland in some areas.

Perhaps most notably, Katrina's storm surge overwhelmed and breached multiple levees responsible for preventing flood waters from pooling into the city. By the time the storm was over, Katrina left behind $108 billion in damage and resulted in over 1,300 fatalities.

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