Charley could flood parts of downtown Tampa; 800,000 told to evacuate
Sure, Miami is going to get hit, but Tampa/St. Petersburg is very likely going to get hammered with a Level 3 ballbuster of a hurricane. You may want to hold off on those vacation plans.
Parts of downtown Tampa and other neighboring areas could be submerged by the massive storm surge likely when a "scary, scary'' Hurricane Charley hits Florida's central gulf coast sometime Friday, state officials said Thursday.
An estimated 800,000 residents and tourists in the storms projected path were told to get out of the way.
It does have the potential of devastating impact. ... This is a scary, scary thing,'' Gov. Jeb Bush said.
It seems like a rather abstract number, and it's difficult to wrap my head around it, but that is a LOT of people. How DO you evacuate that many people safely and in an orderly fashion? Can it even be done?
It's a bit different here than it is along the Texas Gulf Coast. There, we would simply just drive inland- say, to Dallas- in order to get out of the way of a hurricane. Most of Florida is a peninsula, and driving inland really isn't going to do much of anything to get one out of harm's way. It's a much different ballgame here- unless you want to drive to Atlanta.
As Charley continues moving north and intensifying, it could generate a storm surge of 6 to 10 feet along the flood-prone Southwest coast of Florida. Officials on Thursday ordered mandatory evacuations for tourists and residents of coastal areas of Pinellas, Lee, Collier and Sarasota counties, and the barrier islands of Charlotte County, though residents were free to stay if they wished. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for coastal areas of Manatee County....
Hurricane warnings have been posted all along Charley's forecast track, including the Keys from the Dry Tortugas to the Seven Mile Bridge, and the West Coast of Florida from East Cape Sable to Bonita Beach. A hurricane watch has been issued from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River.
Monroe County has ordered a mandatory evacuation of tourists and non-residents, and because the Overseas Highway -- U.S. 1, the only road in and out of the Keys -- was jammed it took some motorists more than 10 hours to drive from Key West to the mainland.
I don't know what's going to happen, outside of the fact that we're going to get wet. I've got a bottle of cheap French wine, and if things get nasty, I'll sit in my apartment, drink, and watch the storm from my 3rd-floor ringside seat until I fall asleep from the alcohol. Party on, Garth....