Milton crane expert fears some will fall in Miami during Irma onslaught

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Miami, home to the third-highest skyline in the country, has many cranes atop building under construction. (Courtesy photo)

MILTON - A Milton resident and prominent expert on crane safety and liability issues said he expects several of the some 40 or so cranes atop skyscrapers under construction in Miami could fall prey to Hurricane Irma which today is barreling toward Southern Florida after decimating the Caribbean.

Bob Coulombe, who ran Global Crane Institute for 20 years and oversaw many crane operations in the United States and abroad, said the cranes in question, called tower cranes, are designed to withstand 150 mph winds, which could be exceeded as the Cat 4 storm comes onshore.

Coulombe, who also owns a winter home in Central Florida, said officials will take the "brakes" off the cranes and let them swing with the wind, which is hoped to mitigate the wind drag and chances of falling to the ground.

"They'll let them spin like a weathervane," he said.

Most of the cranes atop buildings in Miami weigh from 10-15 tons, Coulombe noted, and if they fall, "they won't go down, they'll go with the wind."

Asked if officials should've worked to remove the cranes this past week as the storm's onslaught proved imminent, he said no, "it just wouldn't have been feasible."

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