Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel is in Cape Hatteras, NC, covering the approach of Hurricane Earl. First of all, in Florida we have a superstition that if Jim Cantore shows up in your town when a hurricane is coming you are in big trouble. If I were in the Cape Hatteras area right now, I'd be hunkering down or evacuating.
Mr. Cantore just said something that nearly made me bring up my dinner: he reminded the folks on the North Carolina coast that in 2004 there was a Hurricane Charley that took a sudden jog to the right and came ashore at Port Charlotte, Florida. Hurricane Charley was supposed to travel up the west coast of Florida and possibly make landfall near the Tampa Bay area. On the morning of August 13, 2004, Charley was a category 2 (115 mph) storm, but two hours before landfall it had become a category 4 (145 mph). At one point Jim Cantore had been reporting from Sanibel Island and we all thought, oh boy, this thing is not going to make landfall in Tampa. We are screwed.
The national news outlets and The Weather Channel all maintained the storm would make landfall in the Tampa Bay area, but our local weathermen felt differently. At 11am they risked their careers and cut in on the national coverage to tell everyone to get ready – Charley was turning and would make landfall in Lee or Charlotte County. And they were right, because Charley made landfall first at Captiva Island in Lee County, then Pine Island in Lee County, finally hitting Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte in Charlotte County. Charley eventually followed the road from Port Charlotte to Orlando, wrecking havoc all the way.
We covered our windows and doors with hurricane shutters, used the hurricane brace on the garage door, and were all ready to go into our safe room with the cats. I was already there with a battery-powered TV tuned to the local news station when my husband hollered. I ran out to find the hurricane shutter had been pulled off our front door (it was bolted into the cement on the porch in five places, attached with bolts to the metal frames) and my husband was holding the door shut with both hands. Doors open out so they won't blow in during a storm; unfortunately, the wind can suck them open as well. We knew if the door opened, we would have damage to the inside of the house and possibly lose the roof if the wind came into the house. He wanted me to hold the door while he figured out some way to brace it.