While Houston and other parts of Texas grapple with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, another storm, Irma, has shaped up to be the third most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, with Category 5 winds measuring up to 185 miles per hour as of Wednesday evening.
Having watched Irma pummel through the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, the City of Miami—which has long known of its innate susceptibility to flooding and erosion—prepares itself for what may well be an incredibly devastating blow this weekend.
One of the more urgent concerns raised by the city is the damage that could be wrought by 20 to 25 construction cranes scattered throughout the city, which can withstand winds only up to 145 miles per hour and take two weeks to properly disassemble. Since the storm’s potential path was only projected last Friday, there will not be enough time to take down the equipment.
Irma’s path as of September 6. (National Weather Service/NOAA)
The City of Miami issued a formal evacuation warning on Tuesday afternoon via Twitter to residents (and occupants of high-rises in particular) about the threats posed by unmoored cranes and projectiles. In a sober follow-up tweet, the city reinforced its message:
Consider that the counterbalances on tower cranes weigh about 20,000 to 30,000 pounds.
— City of Miami (@CityofMiami) September 6, 2017
Late yesterday, Miami-Dade County issued a mandatory evacuation order for its coastal cities, including Miami Beach, and the city is continuing its preparation efforts by clearing the downtown harbor, closing public parks, and supplying sandbags for flood protection efforts.
For those living in affected areas, the Florida State Emergency Response Team has activated an Emergency Information Line at 1-800-342-3557.