The Winds of Change….!
Ten years ago, on the 13th of August, 2004… Hurricane Charley hit SW Florida.
Luckily, the Captain and I were living in Kansas City….living in Paradise was not even a glint in our eyes at that time.
First Georgia, then Tampa… was the target… according to numerous meteorologists tracking the path of this monstrous storm.
However, there were two local meteorologists who warned that this hurricane looked like it could take a sharp right turn and slam into SW Florida.
And they were right.
On Tuesday, August 10th, 2004, The National Hurricane Center forecast the projected path Charley would take.
Charley, coming up from the Caribbean, would most likely make his swing into the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, eventually making landfall around the panhandle of Florida..particularly the Big Bend Area.
Later, the projected path would be declared to be Tampa, Florida.
On Wednesday, August 11th, a strong cold front and the associated low pressure trough, began diving down into the Gulf of Mexico.
This trough would most likely turn the hurricane Northward, causing tropical storm-like conditions for SW Florida and the Orlando area, but the eye of the hurricane would cross over further north, closer to Tampa.
As if this were not enough concern for west coast Floridians, there was another tropical storm named Bonnie, dancing around in the Gulf with predictions that she would most likely hit the Florida panhandle also! (Some meteorologists called it a one-two punch, with both the tropical storm and the hurricane hitting the panhandle area).
On Thursday, August 12th…the computer models began showing Charley shifting right, predicting landfall near the Tampa area (which is about 150 miles north of Cape Coral where we live) and then taking on a NE turn across Florida and towards Jacksonville, on the East Coast of Florida.
The early, dawn hours of Friday, August 13th….yes, it was Friday the 13th, 2004…..Charley began strengthening.
According to the 11 a.m. reconnaissance aircraft, Charley was a small hurricane, but powerful… with strong winds of 110 mph.
However, the National Weather Center held to it’s predicted Tampa Landfall, …
BUT… those two local meterologists on the local Television stations, warned that the hurricane was making a sharper right turn and would go right over SW Florida, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Fort Myers and up through the Orlando area by around 9 pm.
The 1 p.m. reconnaissance aircraft noted that Charley was now sustaining winds of 125 mph, making him a category 3 hurricane.
By 2 p.m., Charley became a category 4 hurricane, with roaring winds of 145 mph.
The National Hurricane Center now issued a special advisory and shifted the original predicted path from Tampa …. to SW Florida and the Charlotte Harbor area of Punta Gorda….about 18-20 miles (as the crow flies) from where our home sits in Cape Coral.
The first of the outer bands of rain began to fall about 2:30 p.m., then stopped.
The second, stronger rainband moved into the area around 6 p.m., bringing strong winds. This continued as the weather conditions began deteriorating fast.
Charley hit Cayo Costa Island (one of a chain of barrier islands that shelter Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound) a little before 8 p.m. on Friday, the 13th of August.
By 8:45 p.m., with winds of 150 mph, Charley went through Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor.
During this time, another of the barrier islands….which is a little southwest of our home…. Captiva Island on the North and Sanabel Island on the South became two completely separate islands as the hurricane ripped through the middle.
All this week, marking the anniversary, there have been many reports of heroism and strength prevailing !
Isn’t it great how people respond to a crisis and they all pull together…..
The storm left 10 people dead and 2 million people without power. Property damage was estimated at $5.4 billion and agriculture damage was estimated at $285 million.
The devastation was extensive, but thanks to being prepared for the worst…many lives were spared.
By the way….the builder who built our home and lived in it until we bought it almost four years ago….reported no damage.
But the Captain says that is because our house is built like a fortress!
Re-bar and Cement walls…just ask him whenever he tries to drill through them!
Since we have been in Florida…there have been no hurricanes close to us.
However, shortly after moving to Florida, our home in Kansas City. Missouri had a huge tree fall on the roof, taking out the Utility Room, the Deck and part of the Garage during a middle-of-the-night Thunderstorm!
We thank God that the people leasing the house were sleeping in the left side bedrooms…the upper and lower bedroom windows can be seen on the left in this pic.
My dear readers, thank you for reading…as SW Florida marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charley!