KEY WEST, Fla. – The close brush by a potential tropical storm means the Florida Keys are getting ready for localized flooding and gusty winds, but officials say the islands will remain open for business come rain or shine.
As of Friday morning, the entire island chain was under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flash Flood Watch ahead of the worst of the weather.
"We’re preparing for some local flooding, but we’re kind of accustomed to it," Alyson Crean, a spokeswoman for the Key West, said. "We encourage people to not drive through standing water."
The National Weather Service Office in Key West anticipates the worst of the weather happening on Friday evening and Saturday morning, but because of the system’s disorganization, it was difficult to forecast which island could get the worst of the impacts.
As of Friday morning, most planned events throughout the Keys and the Dry Tortugas had not been canceled because of the weather.
This included trips on ferries and via plane to the Dry Tortugas National Park, about 70 miles west of Key West.
A National Park representative said all operations were continuing as normal, but it could be a day of decision by operators to suspend trips to the island.
The threat of gusty winds and rain was enough for organizers in Key West to cancel Saturday’s Pride Street Fair.
Despite the cancellation, the city said the celebration of Pride Month would continue with the annual pride parade on Sunday.
South Florida and the Keys have had numerous threats from tropical systems over the years, but since Irma’s wrath in 2017 that brought a storm surge of around 8 feet and 130 mph winds, residents have been spared from nature’s fury.
"I think the mood of the community and the city itself is that this is a good practice run to make sure the city is prepared for the season," Crean said.
Monroe County does not supply sandbags because officials say they have proven to be insufficient during past storms.
Officials urge tourists and visitors to slow down and try to avoid flooded streets, where a vehicle’s wake could end up flowing into a business or a home.