Hurricane Charley

Hurricane Charley was the third named storm, the second hurricane of the 2004 season, and the first official mission of the Cyclone Research Group. Charley lasted from August 9 to August 15, and at its peak intensity it attained 150 mph winds, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm made landfall in southwestern Florida at maximum strength, thus making it the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida twelve years before, in 1992.

As Charley passed 40 miles to the SW of Jamaica, the first team of the newly formed organization finished preparations for an intercept in the Tampa Bay region. The mission; to gather wind data from within the strongest part of the storm, and report real time conditions to the region’s Emergency Operations Centers.

After moving briskly through the Caribbean Sea, Charley crossed Cuba on August 13 as a Category 3 hurricane, causing heavy damage and four deaths. That same day, the hurricane crossed over the Dry Tortugas, just 22 hours after Tropical Storm Bonnie struck northwestern Florida. This was the first time in history that two tropical cyclones struck the same state in a 24-hour time period.

Early on the morning of August 13th, the team of the vehicle wich would later be known as “CR1” was in position on St. Petersburg Beach anxiously awating the storm while double checking all equipment to ensure it will be capable of withstanding the forcast winds, which were 110 mph at that time. However, preparations in this area were beginning to look bleak, as the storm was beginning to change it’s path to the south. As the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL began issuing special advisories, each new sattelite and radar frame indicated a more southward turn which eventually placed landfall over 100 miles south of the Tampa Bay region, to the small town of Punta Gorda.

At its peak intensity of 150 mph, Charley struck the northern tip of Captiva Island and the southern tip of North Captiva Island, causing complete destruction both areas. Due to the sudden track change, the team’s decision was to position on the portion of Interstate 75 as it crossed the Colossahachee River, this decision subjected the team to the highest winds with very little threat of debris. The hurricane continued to the northeast and passed through East Orlando while still carrying winds gusting up to 106 mph. Damage in the state totaled to over $13 billion. Charley, initially expected to hit further north in Tampa, caught many Floridians off-guard due to a sudden change in the storm's track as it approached the state. Throughout the United States, Charley caused 10 deaths and $15.4 billion in damage, making Charley the fourth costliest hurricane in United States history at the time.

. Team Members:Tim Millar, Ryan Keelan

Units: CR1
Highest Wind: 147mph
Highest Gust: 171mph
Pressure:945mb

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