First Effects of Hurricane Irma Brush South Florida’s Horse Country
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Sept. 9, 2017–The first effects of Hurricane Irma brushed South Florida’s horse country with rain bursts and increasing winds Saturday but the most destructive impact was expected on the state’s west coast. With no change in the projected track, the major effect of Irma on the horse communities centered around Wellington would be winds gusting between 75 and 100 miles (120/160 km) an hour Sunday evening.
The eye of the hurricane would be located at Ft. Myers on Florida’s west coast and about 100 miles/160 km from Wellington that would put the major horse populations out of the category 4 hurricane zone.
Wellington and surrounding communities were virtual ghost towns Saturday.
Several trainers and horse owners had moved their horses to show grounds such as the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, 10 hours away and well out of the path of the hurricane while the large number that remained, most in solid concrete block barns, spent the past several days preparing for the worst.
The latest advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center forecast Irma to reach the Florida Keys Sunday morning and “is expected to move along or near the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon.”
Irma was rated a category 3 with maximum sustained winds near 125 miles/205 km an hour with higher
“Irma is forecast to restrengthen once it moves away from Cuba, and Irma is expected to remain a powerful
hurricane as it approaches Florida,” the center said.