JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With all indications that Elsa is approaching, one of the most asked questions coming into our newsroom is: “Will the bridges close?”
The answer is likely no. At least not for this storm, where the center should stay 50 miles or more west of downtown Jacksonville.
While parts of Jacksonville could feel sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph Wednesday morning (see below to see the forecast for your neighborhood), officials say it will take sustained wind speeds of 40 mph to close bridges for the safety of motorists.
Because either police officers or FHP troopers with wind speed monitors are stationed at Jacksonville’s tallest bridges, a squall could briefly push winds above the threshold to close the bridges. That includes the Dames Point, Hart, Mathews and Wonderwood bridges.
For example, Tropical Storm Elsa passed about 50 miles west of Key West on Tuesday. While the storm had sustained winds of 60 mph at the time, the International Airport only measured a top wind gust of 59 mph.