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Construction cranes could be high wind hazards - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

Construction cranes could be high wind hazards

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With all the construction going on around Oahu, there are times when more than a dozen tower cranes are up. 

If a hurricane were to head our way, there may not be time to take them down before the storm strikes. That could leave a lingering hazard overhead. 

Tower cranes go up before high rise buildings.

In order to lift huge amounts, crane arms can be loaded up with counterweights weighing tens of thousands of pounds.

All high in the sky, which is best for building, but puts these cranes at the mercy of high winds.

"During a high wind event, the cranes are actually designed to spin around the tower," said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, executive director of the Hawaii Construction Alliance.

During Hurricane Irma, three cranes in Southern Florida did more than just spin, they broke apart.

According to Miami officials the cranes were built to withstand 145-mile-an-hour winds, but gusts proved to be too powerful.

"That sort of thing is very unfortunate, but the cranes are not designed for that high wind speeds and that intensity," Santos-Tam said. 

They are also not designed to go up or be taken down quickly, which meant there wasn't time to take them down before the storm moved through.

"It takes quite a while, it is an extensive operation. It requires other machinery. Given the number of cranes in a big city like Miami or Honolulu, it would take an extensive operation," Santos-Tam said. 

Construction tower cranes aren't the only ones vulnerable to hurricane force winds.

In the past, massive container cranes have also been toppled by extreme winds.

If ones at Honolulu Harbor came down, unlike a downed tower crane that would stop construction, the damage could shut down Oahu's lifeline of supplies.

As we saw with Hurricane Irma, broken cranes during high wind events become a concern for nearby residents in surrounding buildings, as gusts can turn damaged parts and pieces into deadly projectiles.  

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