CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Ian is expected to bring strong, gusty winds to the Charleston area this week – likely Thursday night into the day on Friday – making travel conditions difficult for some drivers.

Many who live in the area often question when – or if – area bridges will shut down during the storm because of high winds.

The Charleston County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) works closely with law enforcement officers to receive updates on wind speeds on the various bridges throughout Charleston County during an emergency situation, like a hurricane or tropical storm.

Below is a look at Charleston County’s bridge procedures during high winds:

Condition Yellow: 30 MPH sustained winds

“When the EOC receives reports from law enforcement officers that sustained wind speeds have reached 30 mph, the media will be asked to put out a message to the public that high profile vehicles will be advised not to use high span (65 feet or higher) or exposed bridges, and the public should use extreme caution if they decide to travel over bridges.”

High profile vehicles are:

  • Box-type trucks similar to those operated by the United Parcel Service (UPS)
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Motor homes
  • Vehicles pulling travel trailers, box-type trailers, large sailboats, or other watercraft

Condition Red: 40 MPH sustained winds

“When the EOC receives reports from law enforcement officers that sustained wind speeds have reached 40 mph, the media will be asked to put out a message to the public that high span (65 feet or higher) or exposed bridges are unsafe for public travel. At these wind speeds, law enforcement officers may not be present at bridges due to unsafe conditions. Anyone who drives over bridges against the advisory is doing so at their own risk.”

According to the county, motorists are warned that in addition to the measured sustained wind speeds, there could be unexpected and dangerous wind gusts of higher speeds.

High span (65 feet high or higher) or exposed bridges in Charleston County:

  • Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
  • • Ashley River ridges (old and new bridges)
  • • Ben Sawyer Bridge (Sullivan’s Island Bridge)
  • • Breech Inlet Bridge (connects Isle of Palms to Sullivan’s Island)
  • • Cosgrove Bridge (the “North Bridge”)
  • • Dawhoo River Bridge (on Edisto Highway SC 174)
  • • Don Holt Bridge (I-526 over the Cooper River between North Charleston and Daniel Island)
  • • Isle of Palms Connector
  • • James Island Connector
  • • Limehouse Bridge
  • • McKinley Washington Bridge (the “Edisto Bridge”: Hwy. 174 over the Edisto River near Edisto Island)
  • • Stono River Bridge (connects James Island to Johns Island over Maybank Highway)
  • • Wando River Bridge (I-526 over the Wando River in Mt. Pleasant)
  • • Wappoo Bridge (connects W. Ashley to James Island)
  • • Westmoreland Bridge (I-526 over the Ashley River between North Charleston and W. Ashley)

At 25 mph, draw bridges are locked down to boat traffic. Draw bridges and swing bridges (bridges that can be mechanically opened to allow for tall boat traffic to pass through from the water) will be locked down to boat traffic when sustained winds reach 25 mph or greater.