The 2015 hurricane season is a light one so far, with just one actual hurricane appearing in the tropics so far — Hurricane Danny, which fizzled into rainstorms over the weekend. But as National Hurricane Center authorities like to say, it only takes one hurricane to ruin your day. The 1992 hurricane season was a light one too — until Hurricane Andrew, the first hurricane of the season, slammed into south Florida on August 24 as a strong Category 5 storm.

Hurricane Andrew

The Miami Herald marked the occasion Monday with a reprint of its August 25, 1992, front page story (see: "Destruction at dawn: What Hurricane Andrew did to South Florida 23 years ago," by Mark Silva, Charles Strouse, and John Donnelly). "In Andrew's wake here, power may be out a week or more in some sections of South Dade, the county imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew to fight growing instances of looting and the president pledged an immediate $50 million in federal disaster aid -- even before his two-hour stop in Miami," the paper reported. "My heart goes out to the people of Florida," Bush said.

"Homestead Air Force Base was one casualty," the Herald reported: "every building was either destroyed or damaged, said Navy Cmdr. Mike Thurwanger in Washington. The base commander told his 6,500 military and 1,000 civilians workers to stay away for at least five days."

Hurricane Andrew had a lasting effect on the building industry, not just in Florida, but along the entire U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coastline. A year after the storm, JLC reported on the industry and governmental response to the record-setting catastrophe (see: "After the Storm: Hard-Won Lessons," by Don Best). Roof failures were widespread in the path of the storm; in response, details like shingle nailing, roof sheathing nailing, and gable truss bracing were beefed up in later generations of the building code. But Hurricane Andrew also provided the impetus for improving the protection of window and door openings — including the requirement for impact-resistant windows, which has since spread from Florida to the rest of the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coastline. Code inspection requirements were also tightened up: in Florida today, for example, roof sheathing nail patterns have to pass inspection before the roofing material can be applied.