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In South Florida, the worst of Hurricane Irma is yet to come


Sorry, South Florida: When you wake up Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma will still not have passed, even though waiting for the dreaded storm has already felt interminable.

In fact, the worst for Miami-Dade and Broward counties — which mercifully won’t be nearly as bad as once feared — probably won’t start until mid-morning, and it will last for several hours.

The region won’t get sustained hurricane winds, only dangerous gusts. But tropical storm winds are expected to extend into Sunday night. That means getting out of the house and around town might not be safe until — gulp — Monday.

A tornado watch will be in effect until at least noon. Two tornadoes touched ground Saturday in Oakland Park and Wilton Manors, and tornado warnings were briefly in effect Saturday night and early Sunday morning in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

And then there’s the storm surge, the water washed ashore by the storm, an unpredictable hazard that local emergency managers fear could result in serious damage. Overnight from Saturday to Sunday, water lapped over bayfront roads along parts of Northeast Miami-Dade, including Miami Shores. After hours of unrelenting rain, some streets had already flooded in downtown Miami and Miami Beach. The National Weather Service’s Miami office issued a flood warning at 4:40 a.m. 

“The thing that has caused me the biggest concern is I don’t think anybody has realized the impact of this storm surge,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a Saturday evening news conference at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

Sunday morning is also when forecasters expect storm surge to rise in the vulnerable Florida Keys, perhaps as high as 10 unimaginable feet.

More here.

Photo credit: Charles Trainor Jr., Miami Herald staff