which was quite different from when Charley hit with 60k strikes the
night before landfall.
Article published Jan 25, 2005
Scientific jury, although not public one, still out on Hurricane
Hurricane Charley may go down as one of the four most powerful storms
in modern U.S. history.
In the past 100 years, only three Category 5 hurricanes with
sustained winds greater than 155 mph have made landfall.
They were the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, which hit the Florida Keys;
Camille, which struck Mississippi in 1969; and Andrew, which wracked
Dade County in 1992.
Officially, Charley has been classified as a Category 4 storm with
winds of 131-155 mph.
That could change as scientists collect and analyze the data,
according to Wayne Salladé, director of emergency management for
He said Charley registered winds of 173 mph in Punta Gorda and 165
mph at the Charlotte County Airport, but he doesn't know if the
velocity held for at least a minute to meet the threshold for
upgrading the storm.
It took 10 years for meteorologists to recognize the severity of
Andrew's winds, Salladé said Monday morning at an appearance before
the West Charlotte County Civic Association.
For perspective, the winds in a Category 5 hurricane are 100 times
more powerful than those of a Category 1 (74-95 mph) and likely to
cause 250 times the damage, Salladé said.
But Charley's wind speed is a cerebral discussion anyway. Those of us
who lived through the Aug. 13 storm and continue to live with its
aftermath have had to come to grips with more relevant numbers. In
n6,000 mobile homes destroyed;
n3,000 conventional homes destroyed;
n27,000 roofs damaged or destroyed;
n41,000 pool cages damaged or destroyed.
Damage statewide added up to $3.2 billion.
Take a slow drive down U.S. 41. On the west side, from Murdock to
Charlotte Harbor, about 60 percent of the businesses are gone,
Salladé said. That's a lot of jobs lost and lives altered.
Eight schools sustained substantial damage. Four -- Neil Armstrong,
East and Peace River elementary schools, and Charlotte High School --
have to be torn down and rebuilt.
The county lost four fire stations, including a new one in Deep Creek
where the department kept its most expensive equipment and where
firefighters' families had flocked for safety.
Even so, things could have been a lot worse, Salladé said.
For all its severity, Charley was a small hurricane, with the
smallest eye -- five miles wide -- ever to hit the United States,
It pushed a 7-foot storm surge. In a larger storm, winds of 155 mph
could carry a 16- to 18-foot surge. If so, Charlotte's death toll
probably would exceed the four inflicted by Charley.
"You know the tsunami? That's a storm surge. And that's how fast it
can be pushed in by the right storm," Salladé said. "People don't
realize how much worse it would have been if Charley had been a
Jeanne or a Frances or an Ivan."
Hurricane season reopens in about four months. Salladé would like to
see at least two reactions from Charley:
nAn advance in technology to explain how the storm's winds
intensified so quickly from 105 to 150 mph. "Earth gives us reasons.
There's a reason. We gotta know why," Salladé said.
nSubstantial discounts by insurance companies to policyholders who
strap their roofs, reinforce their garage doors and install stronger
windows or shutters.
On an individual level, Salladé continues to advise residents to
correct their homes' structural weaknesses, to buy adequate insurance
coverage and to stock up on camping supplies in preparation for loss
of electricity and water service.
After what we've seen with Charley, he says, "Shame on you if you