The 1992 Atlantic hurricane season had one of the latest dates on record for the first named storm. The season officially began on 1 June 1992, and lasted until 30 November 1992. It was the least active hurricane season in nine years due to a strong El Niño which began the year before. The first storm, an unnamed subtropical storm, developed in the central Atlantic on 21 April, over a month before the official start of hurricane season. The most significant storm of the season was Hurricane Andrew, which at the time was the costliest United States hurricane. After crossing the Bahamas, the hurricane made landfall in Florida and Louisiana. It caused $26 billion (1992 US$) in damage, mostly in Florida, and 65 fatalities. Andrew was also the strongest hurricane of the season, reaching winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) while approaching Florida. Unusually, Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley produced tropical storm force winds in the Azores, and the former caused one fatality. Tropical Storm Danielle was one of few tropical cyclones known to make landfall on the Delmarva Peninsula. The storm caused minor damage and two fatalities in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions of the United States. One other hurricane in the season –Frances – did not significantly affect land. The system developed in the central Atlantic, and tracked well away from land, and brought only light rainfall to Newfoundland. In addition to the 7 storms, there were three non-developing tropical depressions. The first depression of the season caused flooding in Cuba and Florida while the other two depressions did not affect any land.
Predictions of tropical activity in the 1992 season
Forecasts of hurricane activity are issued before each hurricane season by Dr. William M. Gray and his associates at Colorado State University (CSU) and the Weather Research Center (WRC). A normal season as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has 12.1 named storms, of which 6.4 reach hurricane strength, and 2.7 become major hurricanes. In December 1991, CSU issued its first forecast for the year and predicted that 1992 would see eight named storms, four hurricanes, and one major hurricane. CSU also issued a forecast in April, June and August, however no revisions were made to the numbers of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricane predicted in 1992.
Prior to the season starting, the WRC predicted that the season would see six named storms, with three of those becoming a hurricane while no forecast was made on the numbers of major hurricanes.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on 1 June, but activity in 1992 began more than a month earlier with the formation of Subtropical Storm One on 21 April. It was a below average season in which 10 tropical depressions formed. Seven of the depressions attained tropical storm status, and four of these attained hurricane status. In addition, one tropical cyclone eventually attained major hurricane status, which is below the 1981–2010 average of 2.7 per season. The low amount of activity is attributed to an El Niño that persisted since the previous season. Another explanation for lack of tropical cyclogenesis that there were weaker than normal tropical waves, which are the source for most North Atlantic tropical cyclones. Only two hurricanes and one tropical storm made landfall during the season. However, damage from Hurricane Andrew was astronomical, causing most of the season's 106 deaths and $26.5 billion (1992 USD) damage toll. The last storm of the season, Hurricane Frances, became extratropical on 27 October, over a month before the official end of the season on 30 November.
Tropical cyclogenesis in the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season began with the development of Subtropical Storm One on 21 April. However, over the next three months, minimal activity occurred, with only two depressions developing, one in June and the other in July. Although wind shear was relatively weak in August, only tropical cyclone occurred in that month. However, that one tropical cyclone, Hurricane Andrew, was the strongest and costliest of the season. Though September is the climatological peak of hurricane season, an increase in wind shear prevented tropical cyclogenesis in the first half of the month. After 16 September, however, five tropical cyclones developed in a span of nine days, from 17 to 26 September. Thereafter, activity abruptly halted, and only one tropical cyclone developed in October, Hurricane Frances. By 27 October, Frances became extratropical, which was more than a month before the official end of the season on 30 November.
The season's activity was reflected with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 76. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength. Subtropical cyclones, such as the first storm, are excluded from the total.
The first storm of the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season was a subtropical depression that developed from a low pressure area southeast of Bermuda on 21 April. The depression tracked northwestward and intensified into Subtropical Storm One on the following day. However, the National Hurricane Center did not initiate advisories on the subtropical storm until 1500 UTC on 22 April. Due to an approaching trough, the subtropical storm decelerated as it continued northwestward. On 23 April, wind shear began increasing on the system, which caused it to weakened back to a subtropical depression later that day.
Later on 23 April, the depression curved abruptly eastward, although many computer models believed it would track east-northeastward or northeastward and transition into an extratropical storm on 26 April. The subtropical depression continued tracking into an area of unfavorable wind shear, and by early on 24 April, satellite imagery showed no deep convection within several hundred miles of the center. Shortly thereafter, the National Hurricane Center discontinued advisories on the depression, reporting that it had degenerated into a low-level cloud swirl. This was, according to the NHC, the first recorded storm to form in April; there would be Tropical Storm Ana in April 2003. During its duration, the subtropical storm exhibited some tropical characteristics, including a warm core and some convection consolidated near the center. As a result, the system was nearly re-classified as a tropical cyclone.
A tropical wave emerged off the western coast of Africa on 12 June, and eventually developed into Tropical Depression One in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Operationally, the National Hurricane Center designated this system as Tropical Depression Two, which lead to confusion because of Subtropical Storm One in April, and then another Tropical Depression Two in July. Outflow from Hurricane Celia in the Pacific Ocean and a trough in the Gulf of Mexico generated wind shear on the depression, which prevented it from intensifying into a tropical storm. The depression curved north-northeastward and eventually made landfall in near Tampa, Florida on 26 June around 1500 UTC. As it was moving ashore, the National Hurricane Center noted that the depression was too poorly organized to locate the center of circulation, and discontinued advisories on the system.
The depression dropped heavy rainfall in Cuba, peaking at 33.43 inches (849 mm). Large amounts of precipitation resulted in flooding, which damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and caused two fatalities in provinces of Pinar del Río and La Habana. As the system was only a tropical depression, light winds were reported, however, a peak gust of 56 mph (90 km/h) was reported at MacDill Air Force Base. Heavy rainfall fell on the west coast of Florida, with local amounts exceeded 20 inches (510 mm). Precipitation throughout the state peaked at 25 inches (640 mm) in Arcadia Tower. Heavy rainfall caused flooding in portions of Florida, which in turn, damaged 4,000 houses and destroyed 70 houses. In addition, five homes destroyed and twelve were damage by a tornado spawned in Nokomis. Severe crop damage to orange trees was also reported. The depression caused two fatalities in Florida and damage totaled to $2.6 million (1992 USD).
A squall line which moved offshore New York and southern New England formed a mesoscale convective vortex, which fired new thunderstorm activity each day as it moved within the westerlies across the northern Atlantic. Once it reached mid-ocean, an increasingly northerly steering flow dropped the system down into the subtropics to the east of Bermuda, and it maintained decent organization. By 2100 UTC on 24 July, the National Hurricane Center began classifying the system as Tropical Depression Two. In the first advisory on the depression, it was noted that the previous tropical depression was erroneously classified as Tropical Depression Two.
Due to northeasterly wind shear, the depression failed to intensified or organize further, as predicted. Instead, the depression weakened by late on 25 July, with satellite imagery indicating that much of the deep convection was removed from the surface circulation. By 26 July, the National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory, noting that it was "too weak to classify and is rapidly losing its identity". The depression dissipated about three hours later.
A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on 14 August, and organized into Tropical Depression Three on 16 August while located about halfway between the Windward Islands and the coast of Africa. It moved to the west-northwest, and strengthened into Tropical Storm Andrew on 17 August. After reaching winds of 50 mph (85 km/h), strong southwesterly shear weakened the storm, and by 20 August it weakened to a minimal storm with a pressure of 1,015 mbar (30.0 inHg)
. It bypassed the Lesser Antilles completely, and turned to the west in response to the building of a high pressure system to the north. Upon turning to the west, a trough of low pressure positioned to the southwest of Andrew created an environment with little vertical shear and well-defined outflow. The storm quickly intensified due to its small size, and became a hurricane on 22 August. Andrew rapidly intensified under ideal conditions for development, and on 23 August the hurricane peaked with winds of 175 mph (280 km/h). It crossed the Bahamas at that intensity, weakened slightly, and re-intensified to a 165 mph (270 km/h) Category 5 hurricane before making landfall near Homestead, Florida. It weakened slightly over the state to a 135 mph (215 km/h) hurricane, but restrengthened to a 145 mph (235 km/h) hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico. A strong mid-latitude trough turned Andrew northward, where it greatly weakened before hitting west of Morgan City, Louisiana on 26 August as a 115 mph (185 km/h) Category 3 hurricane. It turned northeastward, and dissipated over Tennessee on 28 August.
In the Bahamas, Andrew brought high tides, hurricane force winds, and tornadoes, which caused significant damage in the archipelago, especially on Cat Cays. At least 800 houses were destroyed and left damage to the transport, communications, water, sanitation, agriculture, and fishing sectors. Overall, Andrew caused four fatalities and $250 million (1992 USD) in damage in the Bahamas. Throughout the southern portions of Florida, Andrew brought very high winds; a wind gust of 177 mph (282 km/h) was reported at a house in Perrine, Florida. High winds caused catastrophic damage in Florida, especially in Miami-Dade County, where approximately 117,000 houses were either severely damaged or destroyed. In the Everglades, 70,000 acres (280 km2) of trees were knocked down and about 182 million fish were killed. Rainfall in Florida was moderate, peaking at 13.98 inches (355 mm) in western Miami-Dade County. Significant damage to oil platforms was reported, with one company losing 13 platforms, had 104 structures damaged, and five drilling wells blown off course. In Louisiana, Andrew produced hurricane force winds along its path, which left about 152,000 without electricity, downed 80% of trees in the Atchafalaya River Basin, and caused significant agricultural damage. An F3 tornado in St. John the Baptist Parish damaged or destroyed 163 structures. 17 fatalities were reported in Louisiana, six of which were drowning victims offshore. Elsewhere, the storm spawned at least 28 tornadoes, especially in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Overall, Andrew caused 65 fatalities and $26 billion (1992 USD) in damage, making it the third costliest hurricane in U.S. history, behind only Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
A cold front moved off the East Coast of the United States, and eventually became stationary, with the western end near Bermuda. An area of cloudiness detached from the front on 17 September and quickly organized. By 1800 UTC on that day, Tropical Depression Four developed about 340 miles (550 km) east-northeast of Bermuda. The depression intensified, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie early on 18 September. Due to light vertical wind shear, Bonnie rapidly strengthened, and became a hurricane only twelve hours later. While tracking east-northeastward or northeastward on 19 September, Bonnie developed a somewhat well-defined eye feature. Though the eye became indistinct on 20 September, it re-developed by 21 September. At 1800 UTC, Bonnie peaked as a 110 mph (175 km/h) Category 2 hurricane. Thereafter, Bonnie became nearly stationary for almost 24 hours. Satellite images indicated that the low-level center became exposed, indicating that Bonnie was significantly weakening while tracking southward. It is estimated that Bonnie weakened to a tropical storm by late on 24 September. Bonnie further deteriorated to tropical depression status on 26 September, though it re-strengthened to a tropical storm later that day.
By 1500 UTC on 27 September, the National Hurricane Center declared Bonnie extratropical, since it was losing tropical characteristics. Bonnie re-acquired tropical characteristics, and the National Hurricane Center resumed advisories on the storm by 2100 UTC on 28 September. However, post-analysis indicated that Bonnie remained tropical during that time period. Bonnie re-strengthened to a strong tropical storm before vertical wind shear weakened it while approaching the Azores. Shortly before becoming extratropical on 30 September, Bonnie passed through the Azores as a moderately weak tropical storm. One location in the Azores reported tropical storm force winds. In addition, one man was killed by a rock fall on the island of São Miguel. No damage was reported in association with Bonnie.
On 20 September, METEOSAT imagery indicated an area of convection becoming concentrated while well south of the Azores. It is possible that a mid to upper-level cyclonic circulation interacted with the northern portion of a tropical wave. By the following day, satellite imagery noted a well-defined low-level circulation had developed, and the system was classified as Tropical Depression Five while centered about 633 miles (1,019 km) south of the Azores. The depression tracked northwestward and satellite imagery began to indicate banding features. As a result, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Charley on 22 September. An eye developed as Charley tracked north-northwestward, and it became a hurricane on 23 September. Further strengthening occurred, and by late on 24 September, Charley peaked as a 110 mph (175 km/h) Category 2 hurricane.
Thereafter, Charley turned eastward and then east-northeastward while tracking over decreasing sea surface temperatures (SST's). Early on 27 September, Charley was downgraded to a tropical storm. Later that day, Charley crossed over Terceira Island in the Azores with winds of 65 mph (100 km/h). Charley gradually lost tropical characteristic, and by 1800 UTC on 27 September, it had transitioned into an extratropical storm. The remnant system accelerated northeastward toward the British Isles, where it merged with another extratropical low on 29 September. While passing through the Azores, Charley produced tropical storm force winds, with the Lajes AFB reporting sustained winds of 53 mph (85 km/h) and gusts reaching 82 mph (132 km/h). No other effects from Charley were reported in the Azores.
The sixth tropical depression developed offshore of the Southeastern United States on 22 September from the merger of a surface trough, a tropical wave, and a cold front. The depression quickly intensified and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Danielle six hours later. An approaching trough caused a northeastward movement, but later a high pressure system forced the storm to northwestward, which caused Danielle to execute a small anti-cyclonic loop on September 23–24. While offshore of North Carolina on 25 September, Danielle reached its peak intensity as a moderately strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 km/h). It was initially predicted that Danielle would make landfall in North Carolina, however, the storm curved north-northwestward and made landfall in Maryland on the eastern shore of the Delmarva Peninsula at the same intensity. Danielle continued inland and weakened and dissipated over eastern Pennsylvania on 26 September.
Danielle caused severe beach erosion in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, which resulted in overwash, which in turn, damage or destroyed several businesses and houses in the coastal portions of the three states. In addition, street flooding also closed several roads in the region, most notably, North Carolina Highway 12. Many states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England also reported rainfall, although rarely exceeding 3 inches (76 mm). In addition high seas offshore of New Jersey capsized a sailboat, causing two people to drown. Overall, damage from the storm was minimal, with the exception of the damage or destroyed businesses and houses in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.
A poorly organized tropical wave emerged off the west coast of Africa on 23 September and quickly developed into Tropical Depression Seven on 25 September, while centered 777 miles (1,250 km) southwest of Cape Verde. Because the depression was tracking over warm SST's, it was predicted to intensify into a tropical storm. However, wind shear exposed the center as indicated by visible satellite images on 26 September, and the National Hurricane Center noted on 26 September that "the depression could be downgraded to a tropical wave later today". Early on 27 September, the center of the depression became difficult to locate on satellite imagery.
By 28 September, the organization of the depression deteriorated further due to strong vertical wind shear. The center of the depression again became difficult to location by infrared images early on 29 September. Later that day, a few computer models indicated a decrease in wind shear over the depression within two days, thus, it was predicted to strengthen into a tropical storm. However, wind shear exposed the center of the depression again by early on 30 September, though it was still forecast to intensify to tropical storm status. By late on 1 October, satellite imagery noted that the depression dissipated, and the National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory on the system.
On 18 September, a tropical wave exited the coast of Africa with disorganized convection. The system remained disorganized until it began interacting with an upper-level trough while approaching the Lesser Antilles. By 26 September, the system developed into Tropical Depression Eight while centered 345 miles (555 km) north of Hispaniola. The depression tracked west-northwestward toward the Bahamas, and remained below tropical storm status. However, a cold front moving across the Eastern United States caused the depression to become nearly stationary over the Gulf Stream. As a result, further intensification occurred, and the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Earl by 1200 UTC on 29 September while veering away from Florida. At the time of its upgrade, Earl had already started moving away from the United States due to the cold front. Earl attained its peak intensity of 65 mph (105 km/h) early on 1 October with a minimum central pressure of 990 mbar. It gradually weakened thereafter, and Earl was downgraded to a tropical depression on 3 October. Later that day, Earl became extratropical about 295 mi (475 km) south of Bermuda. The remnants dissipated a few days later after meandering around in the Atlantic.
The threat from Earl prompted a tropical storm watch in the Bahamas and later Bermuda, while a coastal flood watch was issued in Florida. Because Earl remained offshore, impact was generally minor. Throughout Florida, Earl spawned 11 tornadoes and brought moderately heavy rainfall, peaking at 9.38 inches (238 mm) near Canal Point, Florida. In addition, light amounts of precipitation were also reported in Georgia and North Carolina. Above normal tides washed away 30 to 35 ft (9.1 to 11 m) of beaches, and lifeguards on St. Augustine Beach made eight rescues.
A low pressure area developed along the end of a quasi-stationary frontal trough. Initially, vertical wind shear prevented deep convection from forming on the western portion of the system. After wind shear decreased, the system became a gale center late on 22 October. By early on the following day, the gale center had transitioned into a tropical storm, and it is estimated that Tropical Storm Frances developed at 0600 UTC on 23 October. Frances quickly strengthened after becoming a tropical storm, and was upgraded to a hurricane by 1800 UTC on that same day. After becoming a hurricane, Frances curved northeastward, and remained well east of Bermuda. By midday on 24 October, Frances peaked as a 85 mph (140 km/h) Category 1 hurricane.
After reaching peak intensity, Frances began tracking over cooler SST's, which gradually weakened the storm. The eye featured became indistinct and by late on 25 October, Frances was downgraded to a tropical storm. Over the next two days, Frances began losing tropical characteristics, and was declared extratropical by early on 27 October. One sailor was reported missing, however, it is unknown if it was as a result of Frances. In addition, one person on a sailboat suffered injuries during an encounter with Frances. On land, Frances caused minimal impact, limited to light rainfall across Newfoundland.
The following names were used for named storms that formed in the north Atlantic in 1992. Subtropical storms were unnamed until 2002, as a result, the subtropical cyclone in April 1992 did not receive a name. The names not retired from this list appeared again on the naming list for the 1998 season. This is the same naming list used for the 1986 season. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray
At their meeting in the spring of 1993, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Andrew from the list above. The name that replaced it on the naming list for the 1998 season was Alex.
This is a table of all of the storms that formed in the 1992 Atlantic hurricane season. It includes their duration, names, landfall(s) – denoted by bold location names – damages, and death totals. Deaths in parentheses are additional and indirect (an example of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but are still related to that storm. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was extratropical or a wave or low, and all of the damage figures are in 1992 USD.
↑National Hurricane Center (January 8, 2013). Atlantic hurricane best track (Hurdat) (dat). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Retrieved on January 12, 2013.