Ex­perts warn: Plan as if you know Irma’s com­ing

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By KIMBERLY MILLER

Hur­ri­cane ex­perts are warn­ing Florid­i­ans not to fo­cus on the shift­ing track of Irma and to pre­pare for im­pact from a ma­jor hur­ri­cane the likes of which many have never ex­pe­ri­enced.

Al­though the of­fi­cial fore­cast track from the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter moved to the east Wed­nes­day, there is no guar­an­tee it will con­tinue in that di­rec­tion.

“Peo­ple need to act as if they are sure the storm is com­ing at its worst, even if we can’t be sure the worst is com­ing,” said Bryan Nor­cross, a Weather Chan­nel hur­ri­cane ex­pert who is cred­ited with sav­ing lives dur­ing Hur­ri­cane An­drew when he was a Mi­ami me­te­o­rol­o­gist. “If the storm were to go right up In­ter­state 95, it would be worse than Wilma, sig­nif­i­cantly worse.”

Nor­cross, who pub­lished My Hur­ri­cane An­drew Story this year in honor of the 25th an­niver­sary of the storm, said Irma’s path won’t be bet­ter un­der­stood un­til it makes the right-hand turn at the western edge of the Ber­muda High, and that could be days away.

Un­der the cur­rent fore­cast, Irma is ex­pected to hit Florida as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm with 145 mph winds, slow­ing to a Cat­e­gory 3 closer to Palm Beach County.

Here is what the Saf­firSimp­son Hur­ri­cane Wind Scale says to ex­pect from such a storm:

Cat­e­gory 3 (111-129 mph winds) — Dev­as­tat­ing dam­age. Well-built framed homes may in­cur ma­jor dam­age or re­moval of roof deck­ing and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or up­rooted, block­ing nu­mer­ous roads. Elec­tric­ity and wa­ter will be un­avail­able for sev­eral days to weeks af­ter the storm passes.

Cat­e­gory 4 (130-156 mph winds) — Cat­a­strophic wind dam­age will oc­cur. Well-built framed homes can sus­tain se­vere dam­age with loss of most of the roof struc­ture and/ or some ex­te­rior walls. Most trees will be snapped or up­rooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will iso­late res­i­den­tial ar­eas. Power out­ages will last weeks to pos­si­bly months. Most of the area will be un­in­hab­it­able for weeks or months.

El­liott Wen­zler / Daily News

Work­ers at The Brazil­ian Court ho­tel board up win­dows Tues­day, heed­ing a fore­cast that could put Palm Beach in the path of ex­tremely pow­er­ful Hur­ri­cane Irma.

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