This month, twenty years ago the Treasure and Space Coasts were threatened by a storm out in the Atlantic. Erin represented the first post-Andrew panic on Florida’s East Coast and then hit the Panhandle just months before the much more powerful and destructive Opal.
I had come down to Jupiter for the Florida Young Democrats Convention from Gainesville where I was in my Junior year at UF. After the convention I went to my parents house in Coral Springs for a couple days and got stuck with no way to drive back to Gainesville until the following weekend because of the storm.
Erin, a Cat 1 storm was originally forecast to hit somewhere between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. But it confounded forecasters by experiencing shearing from upper-level winds, and rapidly moving northwesterly. So instead it made landfall near Vero Beach as a far weaker storm than anticipated. After tearing across the state it entered the gulf and re-intensified eventually becoming a Cat 2 and making a second landfall near Destin.
The storm was good preparation for the Panhandle prior to Opal which just a few months later left a trail of devastation. For the East Coast it amounted to a full-scale drill for future storms and a test of post-Andrew emergency mechanisms.
[…] after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 everything changed. On Friday, we discussed the panic that surrounded weak Hurricane Erin’s approach to the east coast in 1995. In 1999 and 1999 Floridians were threatened and hit by many tropical […]