Flood watches issued; now Charley looms for Florida - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flood watches issued; now Charley looms for Florida

August 12, 2004

Undated-- At 2:00PM, the poorly defined center of Tropical Storm Bonnie was estimated near latitude 30.1 north, longitude 84.0 west or about 30 miles southeast of tallahassee florida.

 Bonnie is moving toward the east-northeast near 28 mph. A turn more to the northeast is expected today. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 40 mph with higher gusts.

Weakening is forecast and bonnie is expected to become extratropical later today or tonight. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 70 miles mainly over water to the southeast of the center.

Hurricane Charley is getting a bit stronger, and forecasters have extended the hurricane watch area a little farther north along Florida's Gulf coast. There's still a hurricane warning posted for the Keys from Dry Tortugas to the Seven-Mile Bridge. The warning also extends along the southwest Florida coast from east Cape Sable north to Bonita Beach, and the National Hurricane Center says it will probably extended farther north by this evening.

Forecasters say a tropical storm watch might be needed for parts of Florida's east coast by this evening. Charley is now centered about 25 miles north of Grand Cayman. It's moving northwest at about 17 miles an hour, with a turn to the north-northwest expected later today. Top sustained winds are up to about 90 miles an hour, with more strengthening expected.

The hurricane-force winds only extend about 25 miles from center. But the tropical storm force winds extend out 115 miles. A big worry is the storm surge flooding along the southwest Florida coast, predicted at six to ten feet above normal. The current projected track of the system goes near or over Tampa Bay tomorrow.

Forecasters say Charley could reach major hurricane status before it reaches western Cuba and near that strength by landfall on Florida's west coast. Charley centered at latitude 19.7 north, longitude 81.2 west.

updated at 4:30PM by dave.miller@walb.com