PINELLAS COUNTY - Thursday morning when Bonnie was still a threat, radio DJ's and weather prognosticators were joking that Charley should have been named Clyde.
As Friday, Aug. 13th, dawned, some might be wondering if a more appropriate would have been Jason. Charley is poised to make trouble for residents throughout Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.
The latest report from the National Weather Service is certainly as scary as any "Friday the 13th" movie. While its important to stay calm, it is equally important to take this situation seriously.
And its hard not to think serious after reading the latest from the weather experts that say Charley is expected to intensify, then accelerate along the west coast of the state.
"The threat of a rapidly developing storm surge in the storm's southern semicircle is great. current indications suggest the highest surge will occur from the counties near Tampa Bay south to Lee County," states the latest National Weather Service warning.
A storm surge of 10 to 13 feet is possible to the south of where Charley makes landfall. A storm surge of 6 to 9 feet is possible north of where Charley moves onshore as winds come around to the west behind the storm.
Tropical force winds were expected to impact southwest areas of the state by 10 a.m. for about 12 hours. Winds are expected to arrive in central west areas around 1 p.m. and should continue for about 12 hours. Winds are expected around the nature coast about 4 p.m. and also should continue for about 12 hours.
The National Weather Service says that hurricane force winds and gusts should last for about three to five hours with the strongest winds along the coast. Charley is still forecast to build into a Category 3 storm with winds in the "inner eyewall perhaps at least 130 mph with higher gusts.
"However, no matter where the center crosses, current forecast data suggest tropical storm force winds of at least 40 mph will affect all areas of west central and southwest Florida today and through early Saturday."
The Weather Service says residents should expect very dangerous winds and widespread damage. Destruction of mobile homes near the center of the storm is possible.
Predictions for damage
The National Weather Service predicts that the majority of mobile home will be damaged near where the storm makes landfall.
"Houses of poor to average construction will have significant damage, including partial wall collapse and roofs being lifted off. Many will be uninhabitable," the report says. "Well constructed houses will incur minor damage to shingles, siding, gutters, as well as blown out windows.
"Partial roof failure is expected at industrial parks, especially to those buildings with light weight steel and aluminum coverings. Older low rising apartment roofs may also be torn off, as well as
receiving siding and shingle damage. Much of the glass in high rise office buildings will be blown out. Airborne debris will cause damage - injury - and possible fatalities.
The report continues saying that all trees with rotting bases will be uprooted or snap and it is most likely that all large branches will snap. Major damage is expected to citrus groves, especially in areas where the ground is saturated.
Flooding will be a problem. The National Weather Service is joining its voice with county and city officials to urge people to leave flood prone areas immediately. Rural locations should expect small streams and creeks to flood outside their banks for at least 6 hours.
Urgan areas could see flooding from the 3 to 6 inches of expected rainfall. The storm surge will limit the ability for flood water to subside.