The Shaws Ride out Hurricane Charlie - August 13th 2004

Charlie came across the Atlantic from Africa, headed north over western Cuba (see picture), and just before landfall on Aug 13th, intensified from a category 2 to a category 4 hurricane in less than an hour.   It also changed course and instead of hitting land around Tampa Bay it came ashore further south at Ft. Myers.

Owen Lee's wife's step-mother lives in Ft. Myers.   She was going to ride it out in a shelter, but they would not let her dog accompany her so she went home.   Her home is only about 8 feet above sea level, and the storm surge was predicted to be above that.   Once the direction changed and it intensified she went to a nearby friends house.   She was safe, and her home miraculously suffered very little damage.

The picture below (provided by NOAA) shows Charlie when it was around 27 degrees north or right over Punta Gorda, FL.   Punta Gorda is where Bob and Evelyn Shaw live.   See Bob's story below!
Bob Shaw's email message reads:

Wow!!! I don't know where to start this message.   First, Many thanks for the generous offers for help from Lee, Don, and Dave.   We appreciate the offers.   Personally, Evelyn and I are fine. We now have power and water.   Phone service is not yet available, not even cell phones, although I can go south to parts of Cape Coral and make cell phone calls.   Reminds me of Casey's on Moosehead where you had to go out to the first big hill.

We were about five miles from the eye of the storm and experienced sustained winds of 145-150 miles per hour.   Since Charlie liked Charlotte Harbor so much, it slowed down while passing Burnt Store Marina, and pounded from one direction and then another.   I never thought I'd welcome 75 mph winds.

You got better news coverage than I did, but I can tell you, Punta Gorda is one big bunch of debris. All three hospitals are closed, except for emergency rooms operating on generators. Power in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte probably cannot be restored, but will have to be completely rebuilt from scratch.   It's that bad.

As for our home, we lost the pool cage completely; it tore the doors off the summer kitchen; 20 or 30 loose, broken, or missing roof tile; minor damage to the soffit on the east side; and of course tree damage everywhere. Street lamps are bent or snapped off at the ground, mail boxes and post torn up, gate broken off the hinges, flag pole bent (even though we took down the flag), etc.

I could go on and on but I won't.   We're just thankful to be alive, as most down here are.   Needless to say, no one expected this storm to turn when it did, or go from a category 2 to a category 4 in less than 25 minutes.   I certainly will not be riding out another cat 4 if I have anything to say about it.

Many thanks for your thoughts and prayers.   All for now.   Bob Shaw

Bob sent this image of Charley's track.

The Hurricane Season Continues with Gaston

Gaston obviously formed in the Atlantic after Frances (G vs F), but Gaston took a shortcut and Frances had a very slow forward speed which allowed Gaston to arrive in Virginia before Frances did.   On August 30, Gaston dumped nearly 14 inches of rain on Richmond, VA.   It caused major damage to the city especially the downtown area.   The Army Corp of Engineers built a levee just east (downstream) of the city.   The levee was designed to keep the Potomac River from backing up and flooding Richmond, but in this case it impeeded the runoff from the uplands to leave the city.

The Hurricane Season Continues with Frances

On September 5th, Hurricane Frances made landfall around Fort Pierce, FL, crossed over to Tampa, and curved around to the north and northeast.   It dumped large amounts of rain, and spawned over 100 tornados.   Frances was a slow moving hurricane with forward speeds, at times, around 4 MPH which gave it time to dump large amounts of rain.

Tornado watches kept Owen and Kathleen Lee of Northern Virginia close to their basement for about an hour on September 8th.   This picture shows how the sky looked from the front door of their house.   Doppler radar reported rotating clouds within a couple miles of their house.

The Hurricane Season Continues with Ivan

On September 16th, Hurricane Ivan made landfall over the Panhandle of Florida doing several BILLION dollars worth of damage, and costing over 20 lives.   This storm also spawned over 100 tornados, and this time the Lee's spent about 8 hours in the basement (4pm to midnight) on September 17th.   It was a wild night with about 60 tornados in the state of Virginia.   Our daughter-in-law works at the hospital in Manassas, and saw one of them.   The patients could not all be moved so they closed the drapes and prayed.   Fortunately, everyone was safe.   After Ivan went a little further north it went out in the Atlantic, turned south and crossed FL a second time, then ended up going ashore at Galvaston, TX and finally coming to an end on Sept 24th.   Ivan lived for about 20 days.

The Hurricane Season Continues with Jeanne

On Sept 25th, category 3 Hurricane Jeanne made landfall around Melbourne, FL.   This is a record 4th major hurricane to hit one state in a single year, and it closely followed the path of Frances.   In fact, the official landfall for Jeanne was just 5 miles north of the official landfall of Frances.   On her way to Florida, Jeanne devastated Haiti, killing over 1500 people.   When Jeanne arrived in Northern Virginia on Sept 28th, it was not quite as scarey - the circulation shown by Doppler Radar was mostly across the Potomac River in Maryland.   A couple of tornados did some damage in MD.

A BIT OF TRIVIA:
The 3rd most deadly hurricane in U.S. history was a category 4 storm that went over the Florida Keys, crossed the Gulf of Mexico, and hit Corpus Christi, Texas during September 1919.   About 750 people lost their lives.   People aboard ships at sea were particulary vulnerable.   Bob Simpson, co-developer of the Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure hurricane strength, was forced to flee the storm as a teen in Corpus Christi.