Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Charley


Hurricane Charley at landfall as seen by NWS Tampa radar


On Friday August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley came roaring ashore at Port Charlotte, FL.  The hurricane had rapidly intensified prior to its landfall.  Also, since its track was running parallel to the southwest Florida coast, any slight variation in course would bring a large deviation of the expected landfall point.  This made Charley’s arrival something of an unpleasant surprise for many residents.

Charley had formed four days earlier south of Barbados.  It tracked south of Jamaica and struck the western tip of Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane early on the morning of August 13th.  It weakened slightly after encountering the island but after passing over the Dry Tortugas it began a rapid intensification and swerved northeastward as its winds ramped up from 110 mph (180 km/hr) to 145 mph (230 km/hr) in just three hours.  By the time Charley struck Cayo Costa, FL, its winds had peaked at 150 mph (240 km/hr).  Because it was a small hurricane, Charley cut a narrow swath of damage across Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, and Port Charlotte.  (It literally cut a narrow channel through Captiva.) Moving across Florida its strength rapidly diminished but still caused damage in Orlando and Kissimmee before moving out to sea at New Smyrna Beach.  It then went on to strike South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing high winds and heavy rains to the Carolinas and Virginia before becoming absorbed into a front.  Charley was responsible for 15 direct deaths in Jamaica, Cuba, and the United States and caused over US$16 billion in damages.


Hurricane Charley’s forecast track at 11 PM on August 12th

There was considerable controversy after the storm.  Although the Florida landfall was within NHC’s cone of uncertainty, many people had concentrated on the ‘skinny black line’ at the center of the cone which depicted landfall in the Tampa region and were surprised by the hurricane’s turn to the northeast.  In addition, many of the high wind warnings issued for Orlando were not carried with the same alert headers as hurricane warnings and were either missed or misinterpreted by emergency managers, TV meteorologists, and the public.  Charley was the first of a record four hurricanes to strike Florida during the very active 2004 hurricane season.

Here are a list of scientific papers with HRD authors or coauthors resulting from Charley:

  • Aberson,S, D., 2008:  Large Forecast Degradations due to Synoptic Surveillance during the 2004 and 2005 Hurricane Seasons. Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 3138–3150.
  • DiNapoli, S. M., M. A. Bourassa, and M. D. Powell, 2012:  Uncertainty and Intercalibration Analysis of H*Wind.  J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 29, 822–833.
  • Lonfat, M., R. Rogers, T. Marchok, and F. D. Marks Jr., 2007:  A Parametric Model for Predicting Hurricane Rainfall.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 135, 3086–3097.
  • Majumdar, S. J., S. D. Aberson, C. H. Bishop, R. Buizza, M. S. Peng, and C. A. Reynolds, 2006:  A Comparison of Adaptive Observing Guidance for Atlantic Tropical Cyclones.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 134, 2354–2372.
  • Marchok, T., R. Rogers, and R. Tuleya, 2007:  Validation Schemes for Tropical Cyclone Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts: Evaluation of Operational Models for U.S. Landfalling Cases.  Wea. Forecasting, 22, 726–746.
  • Powell, M. D., and T. A. Reinhold, 2007:  Tropical Cyclone Destructive Potential by Integrated Kinetic Energy.  Bull. Amer. Met. Soc., 88, 513-526.
  • Reynolds, C. A., M. S. Peng, S. J. Majumdar, S. D. Aberson, C. H. Bishop, and R. Buizza, 2007:  Interpretation of Adaptive Observing Guidance for Atlantic Tropical Cyclones.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 135, 4006–4029.
  • Zhu, P., J. A. Zhang, and F. J. Masters, 2010:  Wavelet Analyses of Turbulence in the Hurricane Surface Layer during Landfalls.  J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 3793–3805.

HRD Monthly Science Meeting of July 2014

July’s Science meeting had 4 presentations:

  1. Kelly M. Núñez Ocasio:  An Extreme Event in the Eyewall of Hurricane Felix
  2. Robert Nystrom:   Storm-Relative Correlation Structures
  3. Joseph Patton:  Extratropical Transition of Hurricane Sandy
  4. Robert Rogers:  Deep convection and its role in RI

The presentations are available on the anonymous ftp site at:


HRD Debrief for missions into Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur – 11 July 2014

HRD researchers discussed the results from the 5 P-3 and 4 G-IV missions into Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur. The agenda for the discussion was:

  • Missions Overview (Reasor)
  • Science Discussions
    • N42: TDR (Rogers/Bucci)
    • N43: TDR (Aberson/Zhang)
    • G-IV: TDR/ET (Gamache/Aberson)
  • Field Program Issues

HRD welcomes summer students



Left to right: Robert Nystrom, Joseph Patton, Kelly Nuñez Ocasio, and Michael Maier-Gerber.

HRD is hosting four students this summer as part of various NOAA programs and collaborations with research partners.

Robert Nystrom is a NOAA Hollings Scholar from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is working with Altug Aksoy to investigate storm-relative correlation structures in ensembles of idealized hurricane simulations.

Joseph Patton is also a NOAA Hollings Scholar, and hails from the University of Oklahoma.  He is working with Sim Aberson to study the extratropical transition of Hurricanes Sandy using HEDAS analyses.

Kelly Nuñez Ocasio is a NOAA Education Partnership Program Scholar from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.  She is working with Jun Zhang and Sim Aberson on data from the P-3 flight into Hurricane Felix that was aborted due to turbulence.

Michael Maier-Gerber is an undergraduate student at the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany.  He is examining the structure and evolution of Hurricane Ingrid (2013) to elucidate how Ingrid was able to intensify under the influence of sustained shear.

We hope you all enjoy your time at HRD and learn a lot about hurricanes to take with you in your future careers.

HRD seminar – Jun Zhang, CIMAS and AOML/HRD – 29 May 2014

Jun presented a seminar on “A Developmental Framework for Improving Hurricane Model Physical Parameterizations using Aircraft Observations”


As part of NOAA’s Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP), this paper addresses the important role of aircraft observations in hurricane model physics validation and improvement. A model developmental framework for improving the physical parameterizations using quality-controlled and post-processed aircraft observations is presented, with steps that include model diagnostics, physics development, physics implementation and further evaluation. Model deficiencies are first identified through model diagnostics by comparing the simulated axisymmetric multi-scale structures to observational composites. New physical parameterizations are developed in parallel based on in-situ observational data from specially designed hurricane field programs. The new physics package is then implemented in the model, which is followed by further evaluation. The developmental framework presented here is found to be successful in improving the surface layer and boundary layer parameterization schemes in the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast (HWRF) model. Observations for improving physics packages other than boundary layer scheme are also discussed.

A video recording of the presentation is available on the anonymous ftp site:


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