Hurricane Warning Issued for all of South Florida, Irma Predicted to Hit US Saturday Night
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 8, 2017–All of South Florida including the equestrian community centered on Wellington was under a hurricane warning as Irma approached the peninsula with maximum sustained winds of 165 miles/265 km an hour.
The latest advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center calculated the hurricane would be downgraded to a category 4 when it hits South Florida Saturday night. The center raised the advisory to a warning from a watch issued early Thursday as the track with Miami in its cross hairs barely varied.
Throughout Saturday night and Sunday, Irma would swirl at least 70 miles/112 km north bringing hurricane conditions with maximum sustained winds estimated at about 115 miles/185 km an hour in Palm Beach County that includes Wellington.
“A hurricane watch has been issued for the east coast of Florida north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet and for the west coast of Florida north of Bonita Beach to Anna Maria Island,” the hurricane center reported in a bulletin late Thursday night.
Southeast Florida and the upper Florida Keys were forecast to receive 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) and up to 20 inches (50 cm) that forecasters said “may cause life-threatening flash floods and in some areas mudslides.”
Surf swells generated by Irma were predicted to start affecting portions of the U.S. southeast coast Friday, “likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Traffic jammed highways leaving South Florida. Demand for gasoline was so great that one-third to almost one-half of service stations ran out of fuel Thursday but police were escorting tanker trucks to replenish supplies.
The heavy traffic and uncertain availability of fuel stymied plans by some horse transportation operators to move horses out of South Florida through Thursday.
Most barns and homes in the Wellington area were built to withstand up to category 4 hurricane force winds.
Feed and water for horses had been stocked up in the days leading to the arrival of Irma.
Many trainers, managers and grooms were remaining in barns and veterinarians advised they were available around the clock.