3 hurricanes that prove August is a dangerous month

By Jamie Martin, Meteorologist
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2017, 11:10 AM EST

Florida has seen its share of strong hurricanes in August, including three of the most dangerous storms in recent history.

Hurricane Andrew -- 1992

Hurricane Andrew was one of the most destructive United States hurricanes on record. It started as a tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa on August 14, 1992. The wave spawned a tropical depression on August 16, which became Tropical Storm Andrew the next day.

Andrew almost dissipated on August 20 due to vertical wind shear. By August 21, Andrew was midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico and turning westward into a more favorable environment.

Rapid strengthening occurred, with Andrew reaching hurricane strength on the 22nd and Category 4 status on the 23rd. It entered South Florida on August 24. The hurricane continued westward into the Gulf of Mexico where it gradually turned northward.

This motion brought Andrew to the Central Louisiana coast on August 26 as a Category 3 hurricane.

Andrew's peak winds in South Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. An automated station at Fowey Rocks reported 142 mph sustained winds with gusts to 169 mph, and higher values may have occurred after the station was damaged and stopped reporting.

The National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph, while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home.

Andrew produced a 17-foot storm surge near the landfall point in Florida.

Andrew is responsible for 23 deaths in the United States and three more in the Bahamas. The hurricane caused $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in South Florida.

The vast majority of the damage in Florida was due to the winds. Damage in the Bahamas was estimated at $250 million.

Hurricane Charley -- 2004

Hurricane Charley originated from a tropical wave, developing into a tropical depression on August 9 about 115 miles south-southeast of Barbados.

The depression strengthened to a tropical storm early the next day in the eastern Caribbean, and became a hurricane on the 11th near Jamaica.

Charley's center passed about 40 miles southwest of the southwest coast of Jamaica, and then passed about 15 miles northeast of Grand Cayman as the hurricane reached category 2 strength on the 12th.

Charley turned to the north-northwest and continued to strengthen, making landfall in western Cuba as a category 3 hurricane with 120 mph maximum winds.

Charley weakened just after its passage over western Cuba; its maximum winds decreased to about 110 mph by the time the center reached the Dry Tortugas around 8 am on the 13th.

Thanks to a strong trough over the Gulf, the hurricane turned north-northeastward and accelerated toward the southwest coast of Florida as it began to intensify rapidly.

Its strength later increased to 145 mph -- category 4 strength.

Charley made landfall with maximum winds near 150 mph on the southwest coast of Florida just north of Captiva Island around 3:45 pm. An hour later, Charley's eye passed over Punta Gorda.

The hurricane then crossed Central Florida, passing near Kissimmee and Orlando.

Charley was still of hurricane intensity around midnight when its center cleared the northeast coast of Florida near Daytona Beach.

After moving into the Atlantic, Charley was a very small hurricane at its Florida landfall, with its maximum winds and storm surge located only about 6-7 miles from the center.

This helped minimize the extent and amplitude of the storm surge, which likely did not exceed 7 feet. However, the hurricane's violent winds devastated Punta Gorda and neighboring Port Charlotte.

Rainfall amounts were generally modest, less than 8 inches. Charley also produced 16 tornadoes in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

The total U. S. damage is estimated to be near $15 billion, making Charley the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Casualties were remarkably low, given the strength of the hurricane and the destruction that resulted. Charley was directly responsible for 10 deaths in the United States. There were also four deaths in Cuba and one in Jamaica.

Hurricane Katrina -- 2005

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes in the history of the United States. It is the deadliest hurricane to strike the United States since the Palm Beach-Lake Okeechobee hurricane of September 1928.

Katrina produced catastrophic damage -- estimated at $75 billion in the New Orleans area and along the Mississippi coast -- and is the costliest U. S. hurricane on record.

This horrific tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave, an upper-level trough, and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression 10.

A tropical depression formed on August 23 about 200 miles southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. Moving northwestward, it became Tropical Storm Katrina during the following day about 75 miles east-southeast of Nassau.

The storm moved through the northwestern Bahamas on August 24-25, and then turned westward toward southern Florida.

Katrina became a hurricane just before making landfall near the Miami-Dade/Broward county line during the evening of August 25. The hurricane moved southwestward across southern Florida into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on August 26.

Katrina then strengthened significantly, reaching Category 5 intensity on August 28. Later that day, maximum sustained winds reached 175 mph with an aircraft-measured central pressure of 902 mb while centered about 195 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Katrina turned to the northwest and then north, with the center making landfall near Buras, Louisiana at 1110 UTC August 29 with maximum winds estimated at 125 mph, a Category 3.

Katrina brought hurricane conditions to southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama.

Storm surge flooding of 25 to 28 feet above normal tide level occurred along portions of the Mississippi coast, with storm surge flooding of 10 to 20 feet above normal tide levels along the southeastern Louisiana coast. Hurricane conditions also occurred over southern Florida and the Dry Tortugas.

The National Hurricane Center reported sustained winds of 69 mph at 0115 UTC August 26 with a gust to 87 mph. Katrina caused 10 to 14 inches of rain over southern Florida, and 8 to 12 inches of rain along its track inland from the northern Gulf coast. Thirty-three tornadoes were reported from the storm.

Hurricane Katrina is responsible for approximately 1,200 reported deaths, including about 1000 in Louisiana and 200 in Mississippi. Seven additional deaths occurred in southern Florida.

Katrina caused catastrophic damage in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Storm surge along the Mississippi coast caused total destruction of many structures, with the surge damage extending several miles inland.

Similar damage occurred in portions of southeastern Louisiana southeast of New Orleans. The surge overtopped and breached levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area, resulting in the inundation of much of the city and its eastern suburbs. The hurricane also caused wind and water damage in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

So although the peak of hurricane season is in early September, we could see pretty active tropical weather for the rest of August. Stay tuned for the latest at :51 after the hour, 24 hours a day.