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Hurricane Charley 6:30 A.M. - Friday - 8/13/04
***PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY IN THE HURRICANE WARNING AREA SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION***
***STRENGTHENING CHARLEY TAKING AIM ON THE CENTRAL WEST COAST OF FLORIDA…A LITTLE NORTH OR A LITTLE SOUTH OF TAMPA***
Charlie crossed Cuba with little to no disruption overnight and now over very warm water in a low to no shear environment. Latest IR satellite show so intense convection building on the western side of the CDO. Outflow is good in all quadrants and Charley is a well developed hurricane. I have to reason to believe that based on latest satellite presentation that Charley is not strengthening. Radar from Key West also shows a well defined and tight eyewall. Charley could be a 120-135 mph hurricane by later today. One can only hope that it peaks prior to landfall…and at worst holds in its intensity and is not still spinning up at time of landfall.
Bottom line….my forecast would have to be for a roughly 120-130 mph hurricane at time of landfall…that could be a tad high...intensity forecasting is a nasty business….I feared this could be 130 mph hurricane from a few days ago, but with a projected landfall in a populated area didn't want to pull the trigger too soon.
Track….Charley continues on a NNW heading and will pass some 75 miles west of Key West….this will spare the Keys a direct hit as advertised….no picnic to be sure are squalls are sweeping the area….but at worst winds might GUST to 75 mph at times.
Based on latest satellite and radar motion a solid north motion…a heading of 360-010 is underway….a gradual turn to the NNE is expected today. This should bring the center inland between Spring Hill and Sarasota this evening. Now, that's not a real big swath but Tampa Bay lies right in the middle of it. Best case is for the center to cross south of the bay so the water does not pile up into the bay….If the center crosses between Clearwater and Spring Hill then a 15 foot surge will swamp Tampa Bay and storm surge flooding and damage will be the likes of which we've not seen perhaps since Camille. I've not going there yet….just want folks to be aware of the stakes here…..will have to watch and see when the NNE motion begins to take hold….that will be the key as to where Charley makes landfall. Gut call right now is….with latest radar trends showing an ever so slightly east of north motion is that it will come inland just south of Tampa Bay and spare them that 15 foot surge, no promises….I'll be watching it through the day.
An increasing forward motion through the day and into the evening/overnight will take Charley inland across north Florida to the northeast corner of the state….high winds will sweep inland across much of the northern 1/3 of the state (not the panhandle) with gusts to over 85 mph possible.
Rain and wind will sweep up the atlantic piedmont as Charley lifts NNE up the coast inland of the coastal plain…my track is somewhat east of the TPC 5am package….from just west of JAX to the PA/NJ Border. This will spread Tropical Storm force winds up the Atlantic coast all the way to SNE. Gusts to hurricane force or a little better could be felt all the way to the Del-Mar-Va region. Depending on exactly how the strong the winds are there could be widespread power outages up into the mid-atlantic region….a situation similar to David in 1979.
That's all for now….. Please consult local NWS statements for more details. If ordered to leave low lying area and barrier islands…DO IT….this could be a life threatening situation.