PINELLAS COUNTY - Hurricane Charley came on shore just after 3 p.m. near Captiva Island in Lee County as a Category 4 storm packing winds in excess of 145 mph.
The latest reports from the National Weather Service Hurricane Center are nothing but good news for residents of Pinellas, who had been braced for the worst as earlier predictions had called for Hurricane Charley to make land on top of Tampa Bay.
As of 5 p.m. all watches and warnings had been lifted with the exception of a flood watch that remains in effect until 5 p.m. tomorrow.
The 5 p.m. weather report states that Hurricane Charley was located near the mouth of Charlotte Harbor and was forecast to move north-northeast across the central part of the state tonight.
The latest tracking maps show Hurricane Charley moving rapidly away from Tampa Bay and leaving the threat of the worst behind. Residents of the county can still expect bands of rain and winds of up to 39 mph as the storm continues to move toward the other side of the state.
Pinellas County had been expected to call a press conference as early as 3 p.m. as residents begin to ask when the evacuation order might be lifted. As of 6 p.m., no word has come as to when residents might be allowed to go back home. As dusk falls, the curfew imposed by the Board of County Commissioners will go into effect, as no word has come down that the order has been rescinded.
Residents are advised to stay put until the storm moves completely out the area. Those living in evacuation areas will not be allowed back in until the evacuation order is officially lifted.
More details about the situation in this county will be posted here as details become available.