SW Florida prepares for Fay

MIAMI – Tropical Storm Fay is expected to come ashore close to Naples, Fla., at near-hurricane strength this morning and parts of South Florida could end up with 10 inches of rain, the Miami Herald reported in a story today.

Fay posed a potential double whammy of intense rain and a tidal surge to flood-susceptible Southwest Florida, where rain is a bigger threat than wind. The center of Tropical Storm Fay crossed Key West Monday evening, downing only a few tree limbs and powerlines and causing isolated flooding. Sustained winds neared 60 mph for much of the day, with a 71-mph gust recorded at Sand Key, about eight miles south of Key West, the newspaper reported.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said Fay’s failure to intensify before reaching the Keys helped Florida “dodge a bullet.”

Southwest Florida may not be so fortunate, however.

If Fay hits at the right spot and time and tide, it could potentially drive inland a wall of water up to eight feet high, hurricane surge models predicted. Just about anywhere the storm makes landfall along the Gulf Coast could wind up awash in seawater, according to the newspaper.

”It’s one of the most vulnerable coastlines in the entire United States for storm surge,” Stephen Baig, a longtime National Hurricane Center surge expert who retired three weeks ago, told the Herald.

Marinas prepare
Preparations at marinas that potentially could be impacted by Fay were already well underway as the storm drew near. Cape Coral Yacht Basin in Cape Coral, Fla., sent out notices on Sunday for people to secure their boats.

“Everybody has complied,” assistant harbormaster Gary Wandrey told the Ft. Myers News-Press in a story on its Web site this morning. “We’re in good shape. People came in and took care of it.”

At Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort & Marina on Captiva, Fla., people started taking boats out of the water Sunday, the newspaper reported.

Four Winds Marina in Bokeelia, Fla., has wet slips and dry storage, and employees as well as customers have been getting ready for Fay for three days.

“A lot of our customers live on the outer islands like Useppa and Upper Captiva, so a lot have gone out to secure their homes and then bring their boats back and put them in dry storage,” general manager Janette Healy told the newspaper. “Customers with boats in wet slips, 80 percent have pulled their boats out of the water. Some of our charter captains have put their boats on trailers. Really, the smartest thing to do is secure your boat.”

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