These historic hurricanes spawned tornadoes, leaving devastation in their paths

Looking back at Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina

Hurricane Katrina (2005) -- More than 1,200 people died in this Category 3 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, breaching the levees and flooding most of New Orleans for days.
Hurricane Katrina (2005) -- More than 1,200 people died in this Category 3 storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, breaching the levees and flooding most of New Orleans for days. (Barry Williams/Getty Images)

Nearing the end of August is historically a point in hurricane season that the tropics heat up and birth some monster storms.

In fact, Aug. 19, 1559 the first hurricane ever in U.S. history was recorded. Pensacola was struck leaving five Spanish ships onshore in the harbor.

August 19th through the 26th historically has produced monster hurricanes many will never forget. Two names come to mind: Andrew and Katrina. Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Homestead Florida on Aug. 24, 1992 as a monster Category 5 storm.

1992: Hurricane Andrew makes landfall just south of Miami as a Category 5 hurricane. The storm would end up causing $26.5 billion in damage, making it, at the time, the costliest hurricane in United States history. (NOAA/Satellite and Information Service)

Years later in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the 24th of August as a Category 1 storm in South Florida. It then moved into the Gulf and strengthened to a monster Category 5 storm. Although Katrina reached Category 5 intensity, it made landfall a second time along the Louisiana-Mississippi border as a Category 3 on Aug. 29.

Hurricane Katrina from 2005 courtesy NOAA

These historical hurricanes have a combined destruction total of just over $150 billion in damages. There was devastating flooding in both storms as well as tornadoes. Hurricane Andrew had 28 tornadoes in its outer-bands while Katrina had a whopping 57 tornadoes that impacted eight different states.

Car under trees after a EF-0 rated tornado in Macon County in Alabama. Tornado spawned by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (NOAA)
Damage in Lakes by the Bay from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. (National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane-spawned tornadoes often happen in the outer bands of the storm anywhere between 50-200 miles from the eye. It’s a prime location for vertical wind shear and strong instability. These are two things that tornadoes need to thrive.

Those that come from tropical cyclones are more like small bursts of rotation out of the super-cell storms that move onshore fueled by the hurricane. They are usually short-lived and small and pop up without much warning. This is why there is usually a tornado watch in place as a tropical system gets closer to making landfall.

Twisters like this are often spawned in the right front quadrant of the tropical system, also referred to as the dirty side of the storm.

To read more about the different quadrants, click here.


About the Author: