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Construction crane failures likely in Miami as Hurricane Irma approaches, less fear in Tampa Bay

City of Miami officials are warning residents to stay clear of buildings near construction tower cranes as Hurricane Irma approaches.

City officials released a letter saying cranes in downtown Miami cannot withstand a Category 5 hurricane, CBS Miami reports. “These tower cranes are designed to withstand winds up to 145 miles per hour, not a Category 5 Hurricane,” the letter states.

In the letter, the city explained the crane’s arm has to remain loose and will not be tied down during a hurricane.  As well, there is a risk that the crane could collapse during the storm.

Local construction sites are shutting down ahead of the storm.

A Category 5 hurricane has wind speeds of 157 mph or greater. By Wednesday morning, the storm has experienced sustained winds of 185 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

There is less concern about potential crane failures in Tampa Bay, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, because the storm’s strongest winds will still not likely be severe enough to topple them.

“One of the design features of tower cranes that makes them so sturdy is that they will spin just like a weather vane when the wind speeds get higher,” the newspaper reported remarks from Scott Gerard, a vice president of Moss Construction. “It looks a little disconcerting when you see it because you think something is wrong, but that is normal and a safety feature of cranes.”

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