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How does monster Hurricane Irma compare to Andrew?

By Brian Thompson , AccuWeather meteorologist
September 09, 2017, 5:45:33 AM EDT

Powerful Hurricane Irma is forecast to go down as one of the strongest storms to hit Florida in recent memory, which brings about comparisons to other storms.

For many in the Miami area and much of South Florida, that benchmark storm is Hurricane Andrew.

“Irma is about twice as big as Andrew,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Andrew vs Irma

The satellite picture of Hurricane Irma with Hurricane Andrew superimposed, showing the size difference between the two storms. (Image/NASA/RAMMM8)

Andrew was a very compact storm that had damage impacts focused mainly across the southern third of the Florida Peninsula.

Aside from the size of the storms, there are other significant differences between the two storms.

“Andrew tracked east-to-west across South Florida quickly,” Kottlowski added.

Irma, on the other hand, is expected to track right along the west coast of Florida, which will impact many more people and spread hurricane-force winds over a larger area compared to Andrew.

The strong onshore winds could buffet the east coast of Florida for the better part of 24 hours, leading to a piling up of water and coastal flooding.

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Storm surge flooding will also slam the western coast of Florida, especially in areas south of Tampa. Onshore winds will blow over a larger stretch of water without interruption from islands, like the Bahamas near eastern Florida.

Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005 are other storms that come to mind to some Floridians, but both moved northeastward across the Peninsula and not up the length of it.

In terms of track, the storm that may be most similar to Irma is Hurricane King in 1950. That storm came ashore near Miami and then tracked right up the middle of the Florida Peninsula.

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