Hurricane Irma Winds, Rain Batter South Florida Horse Country, Widespread Power Cuts, No Major Damage Reported
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 10, 2017–Hurricane Irma’s winds and rain battered South Florida’s horse country throughout the day Sunday, causing widespread power cuts but no major injuries to horses or damage to barns was reported.
As the full force of the hurricane hit the west coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, the horse communities in Palm Beach county on the Atlantic coast were spared the worst.
On-again, off-again tornado warnings–including one forming but not touching down over the sprawling Palm Beach Equestrian Center and Equine Clinic next to the Global Dressage Festival grounds–punctuated lengthy periods of drenching rain and winds as high as 90 miles/145 km per hour.
Days of preparations ahead of what was initially projected to be up to a category 5 hurricane with winds at 165 miles/265 km an hour along Florida’s east coast with Wellington just 16 miles/26 km inland appeared to have paid off.
Especially when the track of Irma slipped to the northwest that brought the Gulf coast cities of Naples, Ft. Myers, Sarasota and Tampa-St. Petersburg into the cross-hairs.
Even so, with the width of the Florida peninsula only 110 miles/176 km where Wellington is located and the terrain flat Palm Beach county was battered.
Barn workers were sleeping over at stables to keep a a close eye on horses.
Most barns lost electric power by mid-afternoon Sunday, about nine hours after the major effects of the hurricane impacted Wellington, neighboring Loxahatchee and other equestrian communities.
The National Hurricane Center reported at 5 p.m. US Eastern time (2300 CET) that hurricane conditions were continuing across parts of the southern Florida peninsula.
Irma, it reported, is expected to produce rain accumulations through Wednesday of 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) for the western Florida peninsula and 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) on the eastern Florida peninsula and southeast Georgia.