What will Charlotte’s construction cranes do during Hurricane Florence winds?

Charlotte’s cranes, which have become a part of the skyline, face the possibility of strong winds from Hurricane Florence later this week.

But those cranes are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds of about 100 mph, said Dennis Kenna, president of Pineville crane company Heede Southeast.

Charlotte’s tower cranes are installed on construction sites and have multiplied during the city’s construction boom of apartments, office buildings and hotels. During high winds, cranes are designed to spin like a weather vane, “just like on top of the barn,” Kenna said.

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Storm prep for Heede requires notifying customers to make sure that there’s nothing attached to the crane — like banners or signs — so the crane can spin freely, Keena said. The crane’s foundation will also have to be clear and pumped out of any water.

Heede has about 15 cranes up across Charlotte, Keena said. Cranes are at Atherton Mill, New Bern Station apartments, AC Hotel SouthPark, hotel and mixed use construction on Stonewall Street, Central Piedmont Community College’s education center and Novant Health’s Presbyterian Medical Center.

“We are working closely with our contractors here and across our system to secure our construction sites in advance of the impacts of Hurricane Florence,” said Novant spokeswoman Jennifer McQuilken.

Meanwhile, three cranes are at two Crescent Communities projects — the Novel Atherton apartment complex and Ally Center office tower on Stonewall Street, according to David Miller, director of construction for Crescent. The cranes will be placed in rotation mode so they can swing freely, minimizing wind resistance, according to Miller.

The Charlotte region has about a 40 percent chance of seeing tropical storm-force winds of more than 39 mph, according to Tuesday morning forecasts from the National Hurricane Center. Those winds are expected to arrive around Thursday morning.

The National Hurricane Center’s predictions for when winds will reach parts of North and South Carolina. Charlotte will see winds around Thursday morning, according to those projections. National Hurricane Center

When Hurricane Hugo hit Charlotte in 1989, eight cranes were up working around the city, Kenna said. None came down, he said.

“I’d worry more about the structure that you’re in — working in or living in — than the crane,” Kenna said.

Cassie Cope: 704-358-5926, @cassielcope.
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