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Charley Reaches Landfall at Sanibel Island

August 13, 2004

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) _ Hurricane Charley came ashore as a Category 4 storm at Sanibel Island on Friday as it pounding west-central Florida with 145 mph winds and a wall of water expected to exceed 10 feet.

Almost 2 million people were urged to evacuate in advance of the storm, which rapidly gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico after swinging around the Florida Keys as a more moderate Category 2 storm Friday morning.

The Hurricane took aim at the most populous region on Florida’s west coast. Charley reached landfall at 3:50 p.m. EDT just southwest of Fort Myers, and about 160 miles southeast of the Tampa Bay area that includes Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Forecasters feared a potentially devastating storm surge of up to 20 feet that could submerge miles of coastline.

The surge ``is going to be the main killer,″ said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. ``This is the nightmare scenario that we’ve been talking about for years.″

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