At 04Z today, powerful CAT2 Hurricane Charley hit Cuba just south of Havana in the town of Batabano. About 50,000 people were evacuated from Cuba's threatened coastlines. Nearly 2 million people have now been ordered to evacuate the west-central Florida peninsula. Electricity and water are expected to be shut off in several areas in the Tampa Bay area this afternoon in preparation of the strongest storm that area has seen in 83 years. At 15Z, Charley was at 25.2N 82.8W and moving N at 16kts. You can see the current position easily from the Key West radar (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/radar/latest/DS.p19r0/si.kbyx.shtml) and the Tampa radar (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/radar/latest/DS.p19r0/si.ktbw.shtml). Intensity is now 95kts, or just shy of a CAT3 storm, and further strengthening is possible before landfall. MSLP has dropped to 965mb. Landfall is expected to occur around 8pm EDT this evening in the Tampa Bay area. Hurricane Warnings are in effect from the FL Keys up to the panhandle, and Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings have been issued for the eastern FL peninsula and the GA and SC coasts. A Hurricane Watch has been added to the northeast FL and GA coasts. The areas right near landfall can expect at least a 12' storm surge, plus widespread areas receiving 6-8+ inches of rain. It is still expected to track over the eastern seaboard states, hitting central VA on Sunday morning, eastern PA midday Sunday, and central NY on Sunday night. Flood Watches already extend from southern Florida all the way up to northern Maine! The strong tropical wave near the Cape Verde Islands has been upgraded to TD4 at 15Z today. The 1009mb Low was at 12.2N 22.7W and tracking W at 12kts. It is still very well organized (for a Depression) and could become TS Danielle later today. Note how far east this is... not even at the Cape Verde Islands yet! Still, Alberto 2000 had this beat when it became a Depression at 18W. Elsewhere, there's a healthy tropical wave out near 10N 45W. It's moving W at 10kts and has a 1013mb Low embedded within it. It has shown continued signs of organization and could become TD5 later today or tomorrow. As an aside, the remnants of Bonnie were responsible for 23 tornado reports in FL, SC, and NC yesterday. It is not uncommon at all for landfalling tropical cyclones to spawn tornadoes. This threat will certainly exist in Charley all along its path.
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