Hurricane Charley: Storm Chaser Reflects One Year Later

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the most violent tropical cyclone to strike the United States in the past 12 years. Professional storm chaser Jim Reed, who survived the full fury of the deadly hurricane near Punta Gorda, Florida, says he feels lucky to be alive now, more than ever.

Columbia, South Carolina (PRWEB) August 12, 2005 -- Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the most violent tropical cyclone to strike the United States in the past 12 years. Professional storm chaser Jim Reed, who survived the full fury of the deadly hurricane near Punta Gorda, Florida, says he feels lucky to be alive now, more than ever.

“Looking back at Charley a year after crunching data and studying the storm makes me appreciate how close I really came to death,” says Reed.

Reed, an award-winning extreme weather photographer whose credits include National Geographic, and meteorologist Greg Zamarripa departed Tampa, Florida on August 13 with a mission of testing new radar equipment while penetrating the eye of Charley, initially only a category two storm.

Charley abruptly surprised the hurricane chasers and even the National Hurricane Center by rapidly intensifying into a monstrous category four storm. Reed was photographing palm trees in a Port Charlotte residential neighborhood when Charley began to build to full force, much faster than expected.

The two men took cover beneath a carport at an abandoned house. 20 seconds after repositioning their Ford Explorer, wind gusts topped 140 miles per hour. Glass, uprooted trees and hunks of debris flew by the two men. Fighting to remain standing, Reed struggled to videotape the full force of the hurricane.

“We are watching a neighborhood disintegrate,” Reed recorded. A few seconds later, a large metal roof exploded into the lens, striking Reed and the camera. The rare footage of flying walls and roofs has since been seen on televised weather specials worldwide.

As the eye of Hurricane Charley passed directly over Reed and Zamarripa, the two were able to crawl out, check their injuries and secure better protection.

“It was dead calm inside the eye,” recalls Reed, a veteran of 14 hurricanes. “We went from wind gusts in excess of 140 miles per hour to absolute peace in a matter of seconds. It was extraordinary.”

Reed, who lives in Columbia, South Carolina during hurricane season, went on to penetrate the eye of hurricanes Gaston, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, but says nothing came close to his experience with Charley.

Hurricane Charley courtesy photos and video are available upon request. Samples can be viewed at: www.jimreedphoto.com

Contact Jim Reed at (803) 782-6226 or (316) 371-9621.

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/8/prweb271561.htm