Thirty years ago today, Hurricane Andrew came ashore in South Miami-Dade, leaving unprecedented destruction and many lessons in its wake.
A great deal has changed since August 24, 1992 – from how hurricane insurance works to Florida building codes – and FIU has been at the forefront of that change.
In fact, FIU’s Wall of Wind (WOW) is a direct legacy of Andrew. FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center – the WOW’s original home — was founded from money donated from the We Will Rebuild Foundation, which helped with Andrew recovery efforts. In its third generation, the 12-fan Wall of Wind is set to give way to a larger, National Science Foundation-funded facility currently under design that will be able to generate 200-mile-per-hour winds and storm surges.
FIU’s research has helped change the local building code, one of the strongest in the nation. One example of FIU’s contribution is research that discovered that replacing a smooth nail with a ring shank nail, which gripswood better, made roofs more resistant to hurricane winds. These nails are now standard in Florida roofing.
FIU is also home to the Florida Public Hurricane Loss Model, a hurricane catastrophe model developed by a multi-disciplinary team of experts in the fields of meteorology, wind and structural engineering, computer science, GIS, statistics, finance, and actuarial science. This model helps the State of Florida assess hurricane wind risk and predict insured losses.
FIU has also developed the Coastal and Estuarine Storm Tide (CEST) model which is used to estimate storm surges from hurricanes and tropical storms along coastal areas. In partnership with the National Hurricane Center, CEST is used to enhance NHC’s storm surge operational forecasts, and the organizations are currently working together on storm surge risk mapping for countries in the Caribbean.