Hurricane Charley was supposed to hit our area. We had watched as it made its way through the Caribbean, and started on its way up the Gulf. If we are to evacuate before a hurricane comes, we have to leave about the time it enters the Gulf to give us enough time to out drive it. Hurricane Charley was a Category 1 (sustained winds of 74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h). We decided to ride it out. What a mistake that turned out to be. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico are very hot, and Hurricane Charley quickly intensified to a Category 3 111-130 mph or 178-209 km/h) and then a Category 4 (131-155 mph or 210-249 km/h). It was too late for us to leave, so we resigned to our fate being in the direct path of a Category 4 hurricane and riding it out in the laundry room.
We parked our car sideways against the garage door to minimize losing the garage door which would then provide lift on the roof and we could lose the roof. About 1 hour before Hurricane Charley was due to make landfall, we just couldn't bear to watch the weather any longer, so we turned the tv off. About half an hour later we turned it on again, and found that Hurricane Charley had very unexpectedly sweved and hit Port Charlotte instead of us.
This documentary (courtesy Frank C Harris) shows the experience of a family in Port Charlotte where Hurricane Charley unexpectedly made landfall. If you have never experienced a hurricane before, this gives you a sample of what it is like.
I feel so bad for this family, and the people of Port Charlotte. They had no warning at all. Until the last minute their weather reports were warning that Port Charlotte would be hit by the outer edges of H. Charley, with possible tropical storm force winds. With less than an hour's notice, the hurricane shifted and hit Port Charlotte instead of Tampa Bay.
Watching this video makes me realize how lucky we were. Especially when you see the size of this hurricane at 4:45.