From 8 to 9pm, the rain continued, with somewhat gusty winds. The main core of the hurricane was forecast to strike with-in the hour but so far, the weather could hardly be called severe. At 9:15pm however, a frightening bulletin was broadcast by the Melbourne Weather Service: "Widespread wind damage reported in Poinciana and Kissimmee...Now headed for Orlando, Sanford, Deltona and Daytona Beach. The circulation center of Hurricane Charley was located over Kissimmee in northwest Osceola County, moving northeast at 23 mph directly towards east Orlando, Union Park, and Oviedo. Wind gusts near 105 mph have been reported at Orlando International Airport. Since 7:30pm, numerous reports have been received in the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area of trees down, blowing debris. Destructive wind gusts of 90 to 100 mph will occur as the eye wall of the hurricane moves from Osceola into central Orange and Seminole counties between 9:30 pm and 10:00 pm. Move immediately to a safe location in the center of your home away from windows. This is a life threatening weather situation".
We clustered around the television, watching the local tv mets following the radar signature of what was Charley's eye approach our area. The storm was tracked in a manner more akin to following a doppler-indicated tornado, rather than a hurricane...such was the compact nature of Charley.
|Charley's northern eyewall began moving into Seminole County around 9:20pm. Over a period of just a few minutes, the winds rapidly intensified at my house from 30mph to hurricane force in gusts.|
|By 9:40, the very worst weather struck Seminole County. Winds were sustained at my house over 80mph, with gusts near 100mph with a barometric pressure of 28.97" (981mb) measured. We could hear loud thumps on the walls and roof of the house as debris became airborne. Sharp cracking sounds, followed by huge thuds, told us that trees were falling everywhere. I began to fear that the large picture window in the livingroom would shatter. We huddled in a narrow hallway while the storm raged outside. Amazingly enough, the electricity stayed on, though the lights flickered continuously.|
Around 10:15pm, the winds started to lessen, though they remained very gusty in the 50mph range for another hour. The rain, which had been torrential since 9pm, slacked off by 11pm to a light mist. It was then that we decided to step outside to try and see what damage had occurred. We were not prepared for what we saw...
|This picture shows my first glimpse outside. The cars were completely covered with tree debris. As we stepped outside, we found the front yard was nearly knee-deep in floodwater.|
|We found that only one strip of about ten homes on my street had electricty. The rest of the entire neighborhood was in darkness. This was due to the fact that my street was fortunate enough to have underground power lines, while the remainder of the area had above ground telephone poles. We ventured up the street only as far as the street lights remained lit. The road was completely blocked by fallen trees|
These next few pictures give some sense of what little we could see outside that night...
Part 4~ The Morning After
Back to "Hurricane Charley"