Lake Okeechobee under tropical storm watch ahead of Ian
A tropical storm watch was issued Monday for Lake Okeechobee, which includes areas that border Palm Beach and Okeechobee counties.
The lake is lined with small communities, many of them built around fishing and farming.
Many people said they expect to feel those strong winds coming in off the lake as they shelter at home.
"The staff is telling here that the word on the ground is that most of those warnings on Lake Okeechobee are for the marine interests, making sure that the people are not on the water and conditions are not good for marine interests," Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said.
There is also concern on land, especially regarding the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake. The Army Corps of Engineers said last week that the structure is in its best condition ever following 15 years of improvements.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the water level on Lake Okeechobee is now at 13.11 feet, more than 2 feet below where it's been the last two years at this time.
"Thanks to the very dry start of the rainy season, we don't see any imminent reason why we would need to make large volume releases from the lake in reaction to the water coming from this storm," U.S. Army Corps spokesman James Yocum wrote in an email.
Yocum said the work to rehab the dike around the lake is now 97% complete.
McKinlay said there are no plans yet for shelters to open but that can change if the storm makes a turn to the east.
"We’ve never been in better shape right now," McKinlay said. "The infrastructure around the lake is strong as it has ever been."
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