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.