Tracking the Tropics
So. Fla. feeling effects of Hurricane Irene
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- South Florida residents have been enduring the indirect effects of Hurricane Irene all day Thursday.
Although the Category 3 storm is about 200 hundred miles east from South Florida's shores, strong winds from Irene could be felt on the east coast beaches all day Thursday.
Lifeguards on Fort Lauderdale Beach echoed what many of their collegues are telling beach goers along south eastern Florida coast: stay out of the water. "You better know what you're doing when you go in the ocean," said Fort Lauderdale Chief Breck Ballou.
Forecasters are predicting wind gusts of up to 40 mph, waves as tall as 11 feet, moderate beach erosion and dangerous rip currents. "We'll let people go if they can handle it, but we'll be the judge of that," said Ballou about intrepid swimmers.
The U.S. Coast Guard is concerned that boaters may be fooled by Irene's distance from South Florida and decide to venture out into the waters. However, officials are warning boaters that hurricane-force-winds will be pushing across the Atlantic on Thursday. "The concern that I have right now is ensuring that the general boating public does not think that there's not going to be a storm with heavy winds or heavy seas," said Coast Guard Captain Chris Scraba.
Boaters like Bob Ryder are taking heed to the Coast Guard's warning. "Everybody I know is pulling their boats out," he said. "They're all tying extra lines on it, and I feel a lot better taking the boat out than I do leaving it in."
Fishing guide Jeff Maggio did not seem too worried, however. He said, "We're going to fish tonight and probably tomorrow. We'll sit back and just watch and be cautious."
On Wednesday, on Haulover Beach in Miami-Dade, beach goers could also feel heavy winds from Irene. "Within the past hour, the wind picked up, and there was a few of the leaves coming down, but that's about it. You don't want to be stuck in your hotel room. That's not why you come to Miami," said tourist Arleigh Hudson.
Meanwhile, on South Beach, business owners are thankful the storm will not hit South Florida but are taking precautions against the gusty winds that may be felt Thursday. "In that case, we put the people inside. Then, we close the windows, we close the umbrellas. In the morning, afternoon and night, we check the computer and the TV, and we know what kind of situation [is going on]," said Federico Olivi, the manager of the Pelican Cafe.
South Beach businesses expressed hope that residents and visitors will continue to patronize their establishments and not be scared away because of the weather. According to Olivi, it would only take a matter of minutes for customers to be moved inside the restaurant if necessary. "In 10 minutes, we fix everything," he said.
Israel Rodriguez of Caffe Milano said, "We have tables inside. We also have tables outside. We have the perfect conditions for any kind of weather."
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