A look back: Hurricane Charley makes landfall 15 years ago

Published: Aug. 14, 2019 at 3:48 AM CDT
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It's been 15 years since Hurricane Charley made landfall in Southwest Florida. The Category 4 hurricane is remembered as the storm of the decade to many in that area.

Charley became a hurricane on August 11 as it approached Jamaica.

By August 13, it was was in the Gulf of Mexico and continued to strengthen. Charlie was originally forecast to directly hit Tampa, but it was pushed by a trough that dug through the Southeastern U.S., later steering it toward Southwest Florida.

Charley made landfall in Caya Costa, just north of Captiva. It was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph. Residents in southwest Florida coastal communities were taken by surprise. The storm tore roofs off of homes, knocked over trees, power lines, and left communities in the dark for weeks.

Hurricane Charley left an estimated $15.4 billion in damages throughout the southeastern states. Taking inflation into account, that would be about $20.9 billion in 2019. For reference, Hurricane Michael cost an estimated $25 billion in damages.

Charley will go down in history as a powerful storm, but also was the first in a historic hurricane season for Florida. Major hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit the state in September. Three major hurricanes made landfall in the sunshine state in a span of six weeks.