The Awesome Power of Hurricanes

Brian Mackey, Scientist
WeatherPredict Consulting, Inc.

Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida on what was to be the first day of my senior year of high school in 1992.  I was living in Palm Beach County at the time, and although the core of the storm stayed well south of my location, it was close enough to give us all quite a scare.  Looking back on the event 20 years later, I now realize how unprepared we all were that day for a category 5 hurricane.  It was a monster, and we did not truly understand its severity until news helicopters discovered the considerable devastation while flying over southern Dade County.  I remember the droves of volunteers steaming into the area, hardly knowing where they were at, as street signs were missing and stop lights were out.  The zoos and parks were not immune to the destruction as well, and I recall helping to clean up Monkey Jungle one weekend as part of a school trip.  This storm was a prime example of the awesome power of hurricanes.

Prior to Andrew, I already knew that I wanted to major in meteorology at the university level.  This event certainty did not take away from this desire, and in fact, it only strengthened my interest and determination to study tropical cyclones.  I remain optimistic that the state of the science will progress further so that we can more clearly understand and model intensity changes and provide even better short-term warnings with the necessary lead time.

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