Hurricane Charley

Hurricane Charley


A stalled frontal system along the eastern seaboard and landfalls from Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley combined to drench the southeast US from Florida up through the coastal midatlantic region. First, a stationary front draped along the Appalachians provided the focus for showers and thunderstorms from the Florida panhandle up through the midatlantic. Next, Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall in the panhandle of Florida on the 12th of August, 2004 near Apalachicola after forming in the south central Gulf of Mexico. Bonnie moved rapidly across north Florida and into southeastern Georgia after coming ashore. The system was quickly sheared apart and lost its identity as it made landfall. Finally, Hurricane Charley, the most powerful hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, made landfall on the afternoon of the 13th of August at Captiva Island on the southwest coast of Florida near Punta Gorda after having crossed over Cuba during the night. Charley remained a hurricane as it cut diagonally north-northeast across the Florida peninsula. The storm then briefly re-emerged over the Atlantic before making a second landfall on the Carolina coast. Charley finally weakened into a tropical storm over coastal North Carolina before racing northeast across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and back out to sea. An upper-level trough was responsible for steering both Bonnie and Charley rapidly off to the north and east.

In November of 1997, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite was launched in an effort to provide better estimates of rainfall over the global Tropics. Since that time, TRMM has been providing un-precedented estimates of rainfall over the Tropics using its array of passive and active sensors. TRMM can cover vast areas of the Tropics where rainfall is poorly measured such as over oceans and land areas where radar coverage is poor or lacking. The TRMM- based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center provides rainfall estimates over the global Tropics. MPA rainfall totals for the period 9-14 August 2004 are shown for the Southeast US and northern Caribbean. A swath of 3 to 5 inch rainfall (green area) extends from the central Gulf of Mexico into northern Florida as a result of Bonnie. A heavier swath of rain containing 3 to 10 inch amounts (darker red areas) extends from the north central Caribbean up through Cuba across Florida and merges with a heavy rain area along the Carolina coast. This marks the path of Charley. Rainfall amounts associated with these two storms were not excessive as both systems moved quickly. Tropical storm and hurricane symbols indicate the paths of Bonnie and Charley.

TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Images produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC), NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.