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Hurricane Ian dwarfs devastating Hurricane Charley

By early Wednesday, the diameter of Ian’s eye had grown to about 35 miles, large enough to fit the entire extent of Charley’s hurricane-force wind field,
A satellite image taken at 12:41 a.m. Wednesday shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico. Ian was taking a similar path to Hurricane Charley, which devastated Charlotte County in 2004 and caused extensive damage in other parts of Florida, but was much larger than Charley in size, experts said.
A satellite image taken at 12:41 a.m. Wednesday shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico. Ian was taking a similar path to Hurricane Charley, which devastated Charlotte County in 2004 and caused extensive damage in other parts of Florida, but was much larger than Charley in size, experts said. [ AP ]
Published Sep. 28|Updated Sep. 28

As Hurricane Ian grew into a monster storm on Wednesday, it drew troubling comparisons to Hurricane Charley, which devastated Charlotte County in 2004, and one disturbing difference.

While the storms’ tracks were shaping up to be similar, experts noted how Ian dwarfed Charley. By 3 a.m., Wednesday, the diameter of Ian’s eye had grown to about 35 miles. That’s large enough to fit the entire extent of Charley’s hurricane-force wind field, Rick Knabb, a hurricane expert for The Weather Channel, noted in a tweet.

“This will produce a much wider swath of damaging wind, storm surge, flooding rains,” Knabb’s tweet said.

Ian’s area of hurricane force winds had grown to about three times the size of Charley’s, and its area of tropical storm-force winds was more than twice Charley’s size, Paul Dellegatto, chief meteorologist for WTVT Fox 13 in Tampa, tweeted at 9:15 a.m.

Related: Ian is near Tampa Bay. Here’s how the area fared in other storms.

“Their tracks may be similar, but that’s about it,” Dellegatto’s tweet said. “#Ian has potential to do significantly more damage than #Charley.”

That was alarming news considering how catastrophic Charley was for the parts of Florida, including the area that Ian was taking aim at Wednesday.

Charley made landfall in the Punta Gorda area on Aug. 13, 2004, as a Category 4 hurricane and was the most devastating storm since Hurricane Andrew came ashore in 1992. Charley killed 15 people directly, caused an estimated $16 billion in property damage and left more than 1 million people without power.

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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

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RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

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PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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