All eyes on cranes during Hurricane Dorian

Three cranes collapsed during Hurricane Irma in South Florida, despite assurances that they could withstand much higher wind speeds

TRD MIAMI /
Aug.August 30, 2019 05:30 PM
(Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

When Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida in 2017, three construction cranes collapsed amid the raging winds, despite assurances that the equipment could withstand wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Now as Hurricane Dorian is strengthening across the Atlantic and is projected to become the largest hurricane to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, developers and construction companies are looking to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again.

During Hurricane Irma, cranes collapsed at Related Group’s luxury condo project Gran Paraiso in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, and at Property Markets Group’s X Miami apartment project in downtown Miami. Another crane collapsed at Related Group’s Auberge Beach Residences & Spa in Fort Lauderdale.

In 2017, all the crane issues came from the same crane model SK-315, according to a report issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The SK-315 model was manufactured by Noell Service.

The model had a design issue with the connection between the beam of the crane and the turntable that allows the crane to operate, according to OSHA. The cranes then collapsed when turbulent winds struck the cranes and caused the beam to separate from the equipment’s turntables and fall over.

But according to a report by Local 10 News in Miami, all SK-315 models were removed from the city and have not been brought back after the collapses, according to the Miami Building Department.

Peter Dyga, the CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida’s East Coast Chapter, said most cranes in Miami can withstand speeds of up to 120 miles per hour and the cranes shouldn’t collapse like last time. He said that cranes will be put into a mode called “weather vane,” which allows them to spin.

“People see them spinning, but that’s what they’re supposed to do. The tension is released by them turning,” Dyga said. “They are designed to be put in that mode and should be fine.”

He added that the cranes are put into the weather vane mode because “there are too many of them to be disassembled for the type of wide event we are looking at.”

Richard Schuerger of John Moriarty & Associates said the construction company has already completed its inspections on the cranes at its projects: 545 Wyn, a mixed-use office development in Wynwood; Elysee, a 57-story tall luxury condo project in the Edgewater neighborhood; and Amli Residential’s apartment development in Midtown Miami.

“The cranes are not coming down,” Schuerger said.


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