High winds and heavy rains continued to pound Southern Florida Monday morning as Hurricane Wilma plotted its return to the Atlantic Ocean. However, road closings and casualties from the storm remained relatively low.
As forecast, Wilma hit the Florida mainland Monday at approximately 6:30 a.m. EDT. The storm made landfall about 20 miles south of Naples as a Category 3 hurricane, but weakened to a Category 2 around 11 a.m. EDT, according to the National Weather Service.
As the storm's eyewall left the mainland early Monday afternoon, reported casualties were low. A Coral Springs, FL, man was reportedly killed by a falling tree shortly after the hurricane's landfall, CNN reported. About 2.2 million homes were left without power after Wilma's 125 mph winds whipped through the region.
Roads in the affected areas also appear to have weathered the storm well, although some roadways were closed due to damage.
The following is a list of road conditions in Florida, current as of midafternoon Monday. Visiteoconline.org/EM_Live/roadstat.nsf for up-to-date information.
- Max Brewer Bridge closed (struck by a boat, closed pending an engineering safety inspection);
- Florida Highway 31 near the 18600 block (water over roadway);
- Florida Highway 31 closed 4 miles north of Lee County line (water over roadway);
- Florida Highway 78 east of Interstate 75 (water over roadway);
- U.S. 1 at Cardsound Road (Florida City) and Mile Marker 106 (Monroe) (water and debris over roadway);
- U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 74 (water and debris over roadway);
- U.S. 27 in Clewiston (water and debris on roadway); and
- U. S. 98 at Florida Highway 721 (water and debris over roadway).
Oil prices actually benefited from Hurricane Wilma. After it became evident that no major refineries or drilling platforms were damaged, light sweet crude for December dropped to a three-month low of $59.15 on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, Forbes reported.