From Florida to the Carolina coast, Hurricane Charley left a trail of devestation in its wake not seen since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. For those of us who experienced Hurricane Charley, it is certainly a day we won't forget.
Now over a year later, the pieces are still being put back together in many places, but in time, hopefully most of the homes, businesses and vital industries that were affected by the wrath of Charley, will be back better than ever.
I was finally able to find the time to get this website up and running about 7 months after that fateful day. Thank you for visiting and feel free to sign the guestbook.
Tropical Depression Three formed over the far southeastern Caribbean on August 10, 2004, and became Tropical Storm Charley just a few hours later. On the following day, Tropical Storm Charley became Hurricane Charley near Jamaica. With its Category 1 Storm status (winds of 74-95 mph) Charley was still days away from a possible landfall in the US, which meant that many Florida residents were not incredibly concerned about a potential landfall, and in a few instances, even aware of its existence.
Charley finally got our undivided attention here in Punta Gorda, Florida, on Thursday August 12, as it moved northward on a course to cross the western tip of Cuba. As Charley moved across Cuba in the early morning hours of Friday August 13, it still retained its Category 1 status, then emerged into the Gulf of Mexico, with forecasts beginning to predict a Tampa/St. Petersburg area landfall.
Charley, now in the Gulf was soon upgraded to a Category 2 Storm (winds of 95-110 mph).
Local TV Starts Buzzing
Was Charley beginning to make an eastward shift towards the coast way ahead of schedule? That was the dilemma facing southwest Florida weather forecasters in the late morning hours of August 13.
Robert Van Winkle |||||||| Jim Reif
We decided to switch over to local TV coverage from national coverage at about 11:00 am just as reports began to emerge that Charley was rapidly gaining stength. WBBH NBC-2 Chief Meteorologist Robert Van Winkle and WZVN ABC-7 Chief Meteorologist Jim Reif were also suggesting that Charley was defying previous predictions of a Tampa/St. Petersburg landfall, and instead appeared to be on course for landfall approximately 100 miles south. It was quickly becoming clear that Hurricane Charley had southwest Florida directly in its sights.
As part of a joint effort by WBBH and WZVN, both Van Winkle and Reif were working and relaying information from the same weather center. I can't emphasize enough how well orchestrated and informative this broadcast was. Seeing the ominous radar and satellite images being displayed, accompanied by equally ominous new weather data, was the very definition of surreal.
Charley Roars Ashore
Hurricane Charley made its first landfall on the barrier island of Cayo Costa just west of Cape Coral at 3:45 pm as a Category 4 Hurricane (winds of 131 to 155 mph). Just a few minutes later at roughly 4:25 pm Hurricane Charley's Category 4 winds began to batter Punta Gorda. Charley's maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall in Punta Gorda were 145 mph, with gusts of 175 mph. Later data assessments however, indicated that it is possible that the sustained winds were even stronger, possibly at or near Category 5 strength (155 mph or greater).
After leaving a trail of devestation here in Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and many other areas of Charlotte County, Hurricane Charley maintained its monstrous Category 4 status as it tore a path through neighboring Desoto County - causing large-scale damage to the town of Arcadia. Charley continued on a track to the northeast and arrived in Orlando at approximately 9:00 pm still packing quite a punch with 70 mph sustained winds and gusts over 100 mph. Charley then moved through the Daytona Beach area 2 hours later with similar wind speeds.
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