(WGHP) – As Category 4 Hurricane Ian strikes the southwest Florida coast, many are wondering how this storm compares to past hurricanes that made landfall in the Sunshine state.

Ian v. Charley (2004) 

The black line represents Hurricane Ian. The purple line represents Hurricane Charley.

While Hurricane Ian is taking a similar path as Hurricane Charley did in 2004, it’s important to remember that two storms are never the same. Despite taking similar paths, Ian and Charley have some key differences to keep in mind.

The black line represents Hurricane Ian. The purple line represents Hurricane Charley.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall on Aug. 13 as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph near Punta Gorda, Florida. 

Charley was a much faster-moving hurricane and plowed through Florida at 20 to 25 mph, impacting the state for less than 9 hours and maintaining its strength even after landfall. 

Ian is moving much slower than Charley was, which means Ian’s impacts will be more prolonged. 

Storm surge

Hurricane Charley’s maximum storm surge was 6 to 7 feet on Sanibel and Estero Islands. 

Hurricane Charley

With Ian’s slower movement, storm surge is expected to be 9 feet or higher in areas from Naples to Port Charlotte. 

The slower movement of Ian also means that the storm surge flooding will likely take longer to subside. 

Rainfall totals

Due to Charley’s fast movement through the state, rainfall totals ranged from 5 to 8 inches. 

Hurricane Charley

Ian’s slower movement means that higher rainfall totals will be able to accumulate since the rainfall is forecast to linger for a longer period of time.

Ian’s rainfall totals are forecast to be 10 to 20 inches which will lead to widespread flooding on top of the storm surge as well as river flooding. 

Size difference

Another key difference between Charley and Ian is their size. 

Charley’s winds reached only 30 miles from the center with a 5 mile wide eye. 

Ian’s winds reach 75 miles from the center with an eye 40 miles wide. 

How did Charley impact North Carolina in 2004? 

Charley reached North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph. Impacts to North Carolina were primarily in the eastern portion of the state. 

Along the coast, a storm surge of 2 to 3 feet was recorded and rainfall totals ranged from less than an inch to over four inches. 

Highest rainfall totals were recorded near Greenville with 5.05 inches of rainfall.

In the Triad, nearly an inch of rainfall was recorded at Piedmont Triad International Airport. 

Wave heights reached 8 feet and combined with the storm surge led to minor beach erosion along the coastline.

Wind gusts approached 60 to 70 mph, which led to minor wind damage. Charley also spawned five weak tornadoes in NC, including an EF-1 in Nags Head.  

What impacts can North Carolina expect from Ian? 

Ian is forecast to track northward into the weekend. The Piedmont could begin to see impacts from Ian as early as Friday morning. 

Our main concern as Ian approaches will be flooding. 

Hurricane Ian

Rainfall totals for NC will be between 3 to 6 inches with the Piedmont seeing 2 to 4 inches. Locally higher amounts will be possible. 

We’ll also be concerned with strong winds. 

Hurricane Ian

The majority of NC will see wind gusts less than 39 mph (below tropical storm strength). However, a few areas in the southern Piedmont could see wind speeds from 39 to 57 mph. 

In preparation for the strong winds, secure any loose items outdoors such as grills, toys, lawn furniture, trash cans, etc. 

The combination of rainfall and strong winds could lead to power outages this weekend. Be prepared with flashlights, lanterns, and ways to receive weather alerts in the event of an outage. 

Ian’s forecast for NC is subject to change, so be sure to check in with the FOX8 weather team as we approach the end of the work week to remain prepared.