MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Even though Hurricane Sandy is hundreds of miles away from South Florida, it is definitely making its presence known.
Outer rain bands and gusty winds from the Category 2 hurricane pelted much of South Florida Thursday morning and conditions are forecast to get even worse through Friday.
The East Coast of Florida from Flagler Beach to Ocean Reef and Lake Okeechobee are under a Tropical Storm Warning. The Upper Keys from Ocean Reef to Craig Key, Florida Bay and from Flagler Beach to Fernandina Beach are under a Tropical Storm Watch.
Southeast Florida and the Keys could see up to 3 inches of rain.
Sustained winds of 15-35 mph may impact South Florida and the Florida East Coast with these conditions continuing through Saturday. Wind gusts could reach as high as 50-60 mph, primarily at the immediate coast or just offshore.
Waves will be the primary threat resulting in beach erosion, coastal flooding and a high rip current risk lasting as long as the middle of next week. Breakers as high as 8-10 feet at the coast and 20 feet offshore are forecast.
Lifeguard towers in the impact zone will be flying red flags to let swimmers know of the dangerous surf conditions. Small Craft Advisories are in effect for most of the Florida coastal waters.
On Ft. Lauderdale Beach, lifeguards posted double red flags and patrolled the beach trying to keep people out of the water.
“It’s very sloppy, it’s really a washing machine out there,” said Ft. Lauderdale Ocean Rescue Chief Breck Ballou. “We are hoping to discourage surfers from even going in because they’ll just get tossed around out there. There are some really severe rip currents.”
Those who braved the beat got blasted by the wind whipped sand and surf. Some, however, it didn’t seem to bother.
“It’s beautiful, I love it,” said one man who was going for a walk shirtless. “I love Ft. Lauderdale Beach and it is really nice.”
Those getting ready for this weekend’s Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show tried to find the silver lining to stormy conditions.
“It’s not the greatest weather for the boat show, but we are all trying to be optimistic about it and stay as dry as we can,” said Judi Lovattq with Bartram & Brakenhoff Yacht Brokerage.
Boat show organizers said they are monitoring the storm closely and additional supports, such as steel pilings, and mooring lines have been added for reinforcement.
“We are all boaters here, a little bit of inclement weather isn’t going to get us down. We’ll get through it and we’re looking forward to a good show either way,” said Daniel Grant with the show.
Everyone is urged to secure loose patio furniture, garbage cans, recycling bins or just about anything that the high wind could pick up.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday night, 10,440 people in Miami-Dade county were without power. Another 6,090 were without power in Broward.
Because the soggy, windy conditions are expected to last through Friday night, a number of outdoor activities have been canceled due to safety concerns.
As a precautionary measure, schools in Palm Beach County will be closing three hours early on Thursday and there will be no after school or evening activities. Palm Beach County and Monroe County public schools will be closed on Friday.
In Broward there are no outdoor after school activities Thursday and Friday. In Miami-Dade, all outdoor after-school activities, practices, athletic events and adult education classes have been canceled for Thursday. No decision has been made yet for Friday.
Both Miami-Dade and Broward public schools will be closed on Friday for a teacher’s work day.
American Heritage and Academy Schools in Plantation will also be closed on Friday.
All Archdiocese of Miami schools will be closed on Friday.
Gulliver Schools in Miami-Dade have also canceled Friday classes.
The Temple Beth Am Day School campus of Pinecrest will be closed Friday.
All Belen Jesuit Preparatory School after school activities including Thursday’s scheduled parent teacher conferences have been canceled. The school will be closed Friday. The homecoming football game against Mater Academy scheduled for Friday night has been cancelled. The homecoming dance scheduled for Friday night has not been cancelled.
The Halloween Safety Expo scheduled for Friday night at Tequesta Trace Park in Weston has been canceled.
The Lauderhill Police Department’s Halloween Safety Day Event set for Friday has been moved to next Wednesday.
Pompano Beach has canceled their Trunk or Treat Festival which was scheduled for Friday evening.
The Boo Bash at ArtsPark in Young Circle in Hollywood on Friday has been moved to next Wednesday.
The Miami Beach Botanic Gardens has postponed their 50th Anniversary party which had been scheduled for Thursday night. It will now be held on November 1st.
Movie Night (Friday) at North Glade Park in Miami-Dade has also been canceled.