August 20, 2004


Willie Drye, author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, has written a post-mortem on Hurricane Charley for National Geographic.

Earlier in the week, Willie wrote an e-mail that scared the pants off me, saying that more Charley-like storms were likely this year:

The experts say the waters in the Caribbean and Gulf are warmer than usual and so that gives hurricanes plenty of fuel to get cranked up, and there's minimal wind shear aloft to tear them apart once they start developing. Also, Phil Klotzbach, a research meteorologist at Colorado State who works with the famous Dr. Gray, says storms already are forming east of the Leeward Islands, and when they start forming there this early in the year, it's usually an indication that things are going to be busy.

Steve Lyons at the Weather Channel told me that Charley could have revved up to a Category 5 if it hadn't run into Punta Gorda first. So, as bad as it was, it could've been a lot worse. I guess if it had stayed in the water for even the three hours or so it would've taken for it to get to Tampa Bay, it could've easily been pushing C5. Yikes. I had a hunch it was going to get really bad when I saw that the eye was only eight miles in diameter. The really, really bad ones often have tiny eyes. The Labor Day hurricane had an eye that was only 10 miles across, and Andrew's was only 12 miles wide, I think.

Posted by Jeff at August 20, 2004 06:50 AM