CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A commonly-asked question in Charleston County during a severe weather threat is, "When will they close the bridges?"
Charleston County rarely closes bridges during such weather events because when the bridges become unsafe for motorists, they are also unsafe for the emergency vehicles that would have to mobilize to do so.
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The public can expect warnings during storms that produce high winds, according to the county's Emergency Operations Center website.
The first is a Condition Yellow warning. When winds reach maximum sustained speeds of 30 mph, the county's Emergency Operations Center will issue a Condition Yellow warning. That means high-profile vehicles like box-trucks used by package delivery companies, tractor trailers, motor homes and vehicles pulling box-type trailers, large sailboats or other watercraft should avoid high-span or exposed bridges. Also, motorists should use extreme caution if they choose to drive across other bridges.
The second is a Condition Red warning. When maximum sustained winds reach a speed of 40 mph, the Condition Red warning will indicate high-span or exposed bridges are unsafe for public travel.
At these wind speeds, law enforcement officers may not be present because of unsafe conditions, and anyone who drives over bridges against the advisory does so at their own risk.
But there could be times when maximum sustained winds do not reach the threshold for an advisory, but that wind gusts could easily exceed those speeds.
In times of strong wind gusts, extreme caution should be taken by motorists on bridges, even if a warning has not been issued.
The following high-span or exposed bridges are subject to these kinds of advisories in Charleston County:
- Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
- Ashley River Bridges (old and new bridges)
- Ben Sawyer Bridge
- Cosgrove Bridge (also known as the "North Bridge")
- Dawhoo River Bridge
- Don Holt Bridge
- Isle of Palms Connector
- James Island Connector
- Limehouse Bridge
- McKinley Washington Bridge (on Hwy. 174 over the Edisto River)
- Stono River Bridge (connects James and Johns Islands)
- Wando River Bridge (I-526 over the Wando River in Mount Pleasant)
- Wappoo Bridge (connects West Ashley and James Island)
- Westmoreland Bridge (I-526 over the Ashley River between W. Ashley and N. Charleston
At maximum sustained winds of 25 mph or greater, drawbridges in Charleston County will be locked down.
Draw bridges and swing bridges can be mechanically opened to allow for tall boat traffic to pass through from the water.
But when maximum sustained winds reach a speed of 25 mph, those bridges are locked down, preventing tall boats from passing through.