The sheer size and intensity of Hurricane Irma is enough to cause catastrophic damage to anything in its path. On Florida's west coast, people are bracing for tropical storm force winds from 39 mph to 73 mph.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers will shut down the Sunshine Skyway when sustained winds reach 40 mph. With Irma's current track, that closure is expected to happen overnight Saturday to Sunday.
As for the Bayside, Gandy, Howard Frankland, and Courtney Campbell bridges, there is no wind threshold. Troopers will monitor the bridges during Irma and determine if they are safe for drivers.
FHP Sgt. Steve Gaskins says if waters start crashing over the roadway and/or if the winds are too high for drivers to safely cross, they will shut down the low-lying bridges. Residents need to hope for the best, but prepare for a complete closure sometime on Sunday.
The last the time bridges were shut down for weather was during Tropical Storm Debby in 2012. Gaskins says the Skyway was closed for three days. The Howard Frankland was closed for eight hours. The Courtney Campbell was shut down, too.
If you are elderly, have a serious health condition and live alone, or if you're in the late stages of pregnancy, you are urged to make plans now in case of an emergency.
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