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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Students aren't even two days into the new school year, but that doesn't mean they aren't speculating about classes being canceled soon.

Hurricane Irene is projected to pass through Florida on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center's website. Gainesville was included in the five-day forecast cone as of Monday, which could mean canceled classes.

Even if the eye of the storm does not pass through Gainesville, the outer part of the storm could still hit the area, said geography professor and hurricane expert Corene Matyas.

"We could still see some damage and still have some problems," she said.

Matyas said the National Hurricane Center has predicted that Gainesville has a 30- to 40-percent chance of seeing tropical-storm-force winds and about a 10-percent chance of seeing hurricane-force winds.

However, it is still too early to say how the Gainesville area will be affected.

UF spokesman Steve Orlando said representatives from various UF departments are watching Hurricane Irene's progress. UF President Bernie Machen makes the ultimate decision of whether to close campus, Orlando said. The school does not yet know whether it will need to close.

"It can be very much an hour-by-hour process," Orlando said.

Students can check the UF website for updates. Any UF announcements would also be sent through UF Alert via text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter posts, Orlando said.

Journalism junior Tyler Benjamin said he doesn't mind the storm coming to Gainesville, but he isn't aching for classes to be canceled, either.

"It's not the end of the world if I have to sit through a few hours of instruction that I'll have to sit through for another four months anyway," he said.

If Gainesville does get bad weather, Matyas said the biggest danger could be from wind bringing down trees and branches.

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Orlando said students should start thinking about preparations now in case the storm does hit later in the week.

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