HURRICANE CENTRAL - There are three major components to a hurricane: wind, rain and surge. While surge and rain are by far the deadliest parts of a storm, high winds can cause fatalities, along with significant structural and environmental damage.
Hurricane Charley roared ashore Friday, August 13th 2004, moving up Charlotte Harbor, and pounded Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte as a strong category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph. The damage caused by the incredible winds stretched well inland; in fact, major damage was widespread in places like Arcadia in DeSoto County where more than 90 percent of the buildings sustained some sort of damage.
Hurricanes are categorized using the Saffir-Simpson wind scale. Hurricanes are given a category from 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest storm with the highest winds. A tropical storm becomes a category 1 hurricane when maximum sustained winds hit 74 mph. A hurricane becomes a category 5 storm when winds hit 157 mph or greater.
The last category 5 storm to hit the United States was Hurricane Andrew, which hit South Florida back in 1992. After Andrew, building codes changed in Florida, and likely made a big difference in the damage that we saw here locally from Hurricanes Charley and Wilma.
"Hurricane Charley, for example, was the highest wind that we've seen from a hurricane since Hurricane Andrew and none of the new houses-- there were no demolition permits pulled on any of the new houses," explained Dr. Tim Reinhold, Senior Vice President of Research of the Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety.