When he reminded attendees at the 2005 Windstorm Conference that predicting hurricane landfall was still far from being an exact science, Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, probably was preaching to the choir.

Pointing to a slide showing a map of the predicted landfall for Hurricane Charley, he noted that the Tampa Bay area was projected to be ground zero before the storm unexpectedly took a sharp turn into Charlotte County. Mayfield’s comments brought back scary memories to the locals in the room, reminding them that Charley likely would have been a Category 5 storm as it crossed densely populated Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Although the storm missed the Tampa Bay area, Charley’s 145 mile-per-hour winds still caused $6.8 billion in insured losses, while destroying 10,000 homes and severely damaging another 17,000.

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