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NASA Sees Hurricane Charley Slice a Florida Island
Hurricane Charley came ashore on the southwest coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, Aug. 13, 2004, and changed the look of North Captiva Island.

Satellite image of Hurricane Charley approaching Florida in 2004.Image to right: Hurricane Charley Approaching Florida: NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004, at 12:35 p.m. ET. Charley was rapidly gaining strength and reached Category 4 status by 2 p.m. Maximum sustained winds were at 145 mph, and Charley was moving towards the north-northeast at 20 miles per hour. Click on image to expand. Credit NASA/GSFC MODIS Rapid Response Team

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are studying the effects of Charley as part of a cooperative research project investigating coastal change.

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program investigates the extent and causes of coastal impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on the coasts of the United States. The program's overall objective is to improve the capability to predict coastal change that results from severe tropical and extra-tropical storms. Such a capability will facilitate locating buildings and infrastructure away from coastal change hazards.

Animation still of Captiva Island in September 1998.

Image above: Captiva Island in 1998: This 3-D computer model of Captiva Island is as it appeared in 1998. It was created using LiDAR data. Credit: NASA

On Aug. 15, aerial video and still photography were acquired from Venice to Marco Island, Fla. On Aug. 16, NASA's laser mapping system called EAARL (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar), measured ocean depths and the topography of the ocean floor and the coast.

Animation still of Captiva Island, FL in May 2004.

Image above: Captiva Island Before Charley Arrives: Captiva Island appears thinner in May 2004, because Tropical Storm Gabrielle cut two small passes through the island in 2001. Credit: NASA

The data were compared to an earlier survey conducted in June 2004 by the Army Corps of Engineers using CHARTS (Compact Hydrographic Airborne Rapid Total Survey) to detect the magnitude and spatial variability of coastal changes such as beach erosion, overwash deposition and island breaches. The data will also be used to develop and test computer models that will predict coastal impacts from severe storms. It will be made available to local, state and federal agencies for purposes of disaster recovery and erosion mitigation.

Photo of Captiva Island, FL after Hurricane Charley.

Image above: Hurricane Charley Floods Captiva Island, FL: This is an aerial photo taken of flooding over Captiva Island on August 15, 2004, after Hurricane Charley passed through. Credit: NASA

"They are trying to better understand how hurricanes or Nor'easters impact coastal environments," said C. Wayne Wright, remote-sensing scientist at NASA Goddard's Wallops Island Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

This is a joint project with NASA, the USGS and the Army Corps of Engineers. The partners are using this to measure beach face changes as a result of severe storms.

Animation still of Captiva Island, FL in August 2004.

Image above:A Digital Look at the Flooding: NASA's EAARL (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar), a laser mapping system was used to create a digital elevation model (DEM) showing flooding from 0-9.8 feet. Credit: NASA

Related Links: Hurricane Charley Impact Studies at USGS

Rob Gutro Goddard Space Flight Center