florida hurricanes

Irma Now a Category 4 with an Eye on Florida

Sep 5, 2017

Irma strengthened Monday afternoon to a Category 4 storm, and the latest forecast data suggests the Major Hurricane will approach South Florida this weekend. It was too soon to make or deny that call in the past few days, but it’s now time for all Floridians in a hurricane prone area - no matter which coast you live along - to take Irma seriously.

Twenty-five years ago, in those harrowing days and weeks after Hurricane Andrew, people were trying to figure out how to cope with the destruction and trauma that the storm left behind. One of the ways they did that was by recording songs and sending them to TV meteorologist Bryan Norcross.

Victor Vincent remembers Hurricane Andrew well, even after 25 years.

At the time, he was working at the Miami Science Museum and living with his girlfriend, now wife, in Miami's Country Walk. 

Close to 90 percent of the houses in Country Walk were destroyed during the storm, including Vincent's. Many homeowners ended up suing the developer, Arvida, for poor construction.  Miami-Dade County adopted stricter building codes, but the damage had already been done. 

Warren Browne / Discovery YMCA

Twenty-five years ago this week, Hurricane Andrew destroyed the Homestead area- including many of its daycare centers.

That’s when Sue Loyzelle stepped in.

She was the director of the local YMCA at the time. After the storm, she was tasked by the city to establish an emergency daycare center at Harris Field--right by the Air Force base in Homestead.

WLRN spoke to Loyzelle at the opening of HistoryMiami's Hurricane Andrew: 25 Years Later exhibit in our Miami Stories audio recording booth. Below is what she told us in the booth: 

Twenty-five years ago, Hurricane Andrew hurtled through South Florida. The Category 5 storm uprooted trees, washed boats ashore and destroyed thousands of homes. It caused an estimated $25 billion in damage.

But the hurricane didn't scare Kendall resident Camille Grace, a 47-year-old who worked in sales for Cayman Airways and taught night school. She put her storm shutters up and filled her two bath tubs with water in case she lost access to the precious liquid during the storm. 

Marcia Brod

Lenny and Marcia Brod clearly remember one sleepless night 25 years ago. It was the eve of Hurricane Andrew.

“We were novices,” said Marcia Brod, 67. “It was a first time any kind of hurricane was coming through that was significant.”

In 1992, they were raising their two kids in a new home located on 128th Street and Southwest 107th Avenue in Miami. They had barely planned for the Category 5 storm hurling toward South Florida. 


25 years ago when Hurricane Andrew hit Miami, Lance O’Brian and his friend decided to wait out the storm in Miami Beach. Both surfers, they hoped to catch some good waves once the storm had passed.

HistoryMiami museum folklorist Vanessa Navarro spoke with O'Brian as part of a HistoryMiami research project called “What Makes Miami Miami?” The Florida Folklife Program, a component of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources, directed the project. Below is an edited excerpt of his interview:


If a hurricane hit today, Isaias Torres and Leah Richter Torres would be together. They're married and just had a baby girl.

But 25 years ago, they were in completely different places.

Isaias, then a 13-year-old on his way into eighth grade, lived with his mom. During the storm, his parents, who had recently divorced, came together under one roof in Hialeah.

Leah, then 17, was on her way to study environmental engineering at the University of Florida. Her mom, dad and two little sisters got into the car to drive her to Gainesville the Friday before Andrew.

Katie Lepri / WLRN

Growing up in Miami, Nanci Mitchell has been through a lot of hurricanes.

“I remember in high school, sitting on the back porch in the middle of one of the hurricanes, just screened in, and it was just neat watching the storm,” she said. “It was no big deal.”

But Hurricane Andrew was a different story.

In a conversation with her sister-in-law, who lived out of state, Mitchell, then 47, confessed that Andrew “was unlike any other.”

“There was nothing like this hurricane,” she said. 

Miami Herald

Bart Mackleen was in a state of disbelief when he heard about the devastation of southern Miami-Dade, called Dade County back then, after Hurricane Andrew. 

"This [the hurricane] took everything away," he said. "You couldn't recognize where you were." 

The 2017 hurricane season, already forecast to churn out more storms than usual, is likely to get even busier.

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its forecast, just as the season peak nears, calling for 14 to 19 names storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes with winds topping 111 mph. That’s slightly above the 11 to 17 named storms and two to four major hurricanes predicted at the start of the season.

Rains Will Continue In South Florida As Tropical Depression Emily Moves Into The Atlantic

Jul 31, 2017
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Updated: 11 a.m. Tuesday  

Tropical Depression Emily is moving out over the Atlantic early Tuesday, a day after slogging across the Florida peninsula, where it brought drenching rain and power outages.


The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the depression's maximum sustained winds are near 30 mph. Forecasters say slight strengthening is possible during the day but the poorly-organized depression is expected to stop being a tropical system within a day or two.

The depression is centered about 50 miles north-northeast of Vero Beach, Florida, and is moving east-northeast near 12 mph.

Tropical Storm Emily weakened to a tropical depression Monday afternoon as it slogged eastward across the Florida peninsula, spreading drenching rains, causing power outages and leaving two fishermen to be rescued from Tampa Bay.

The National Hurricane Center said Emily made landfall late Monday on Florida's Gulf Coast south of Tampa Bay and then began moving east toward the Atlantic coast. Emily spent only a few hours as a tropical storm, losing strength as it marched inland across the central Florida peninsula toward the Atlantic coast.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at an afternoon news briefing in the state capital of Tallahassee that about 18,000 homes and businesses lost power, mostly in hard-hit Manatee County. Scott, who was on vacation in Maine and returned to the state when the advisory changed, said the storm was a reminder that severe weather can strike the state at any time.

State emergency management officials also said that the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay, which was closed for a few hours because of high winds, had since reopened. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) as it crawled ashore but was down to top winds of 35 mph (55 kph) hours later.

Pabak Sarkar / flickr

Your phone, if you allow it to do so, can make many different types of noise. Some are light and non-invasive, but some are aimed at getting your attention.

A new Wireless Emergency Alert from the department of Homeland Security could buzz your phone this hurricane season. Hurricane Specialist Jamie Rhome says the new Storm Surge Warning will come from the National Hurricane Center.

“If you’re in this warning area it means you’ve got the potential for life threatening conditions that you need to take action and protect yourself.”

He calls it “beautifully simple”.

After more than two decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Hunter planes have a new home. Construction crews are scrambling to get it ready for this week's start of hurricane season.

Tim Chapman / Miami Herald

The Florida Keys are hardly the only place in the U.S. that's vulnerable to hurricanes. That's true along any coastline.

But the thing about the Keys is that, as an island chain, the whole county is a coastline. There is no inland.

"Much of the Florida Keys is only about 5 feet above sea level," said Martin Senterfitt, Monroe County's director of emergency management. The county makes the decisions about when to evacuate the island chain.