Hurricane Andrew teaches lessons, 20 years later

nCategory 5 hurricane hit southern Miami-Dade County

Published On: Jul 24 2012 04:50:44 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 25 2012 11:55:42 AM EDT
Hurricane Andrew
MIAMI -

As the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew's devastating effects on South Florida approaches, experts discuss the storm and its impact at the National Hurricane Center.

"As bad as Andrew was, and I sure don't want to minimize that, it could have been much worse," said Local 10 hurricane specialist Max Mayfield

That is because the eye of the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew hit southwest Miami-Dade County, and not Miami Beach or downtown Miami, he said.

Hurricane Andrew caused $26 billion in damage, the most ever for a natural disaster at the time.

On Tuesday, forecasters shared lessons learned. They said that forecast models and satellite imagery has improved, but the risk of storms forming rapidly off the coast is still problematic.

"We've cut the forecast error since Andrew about in half, but that doesn't mean those forecasts are perfect," said National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb. "We still don't know exactly, even a day or two in advance, who's going to get the worst of the hurricane. On top of that, we haven't gotten any better in terms of forecasting the future strength of a hurricane."

"It's not all about the forecasting," Mayfield said. "The land use and the billing codes and the education and the communication, all those things are part of the puzzle."