Intercept of Hurricane Ike on the Skyway Bridge
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 5:00 PM MST
ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- Having closely monitored Hurricane Ike as it churned west through the Caribbean, I have watched the awesome power of Ike churn its way into the Gulf of Mexico. With the eye of this powerful Category 4 Hurricane sitting less than 200 miles off the coast of Tampa Bay, I decided to use a trip down to Port Manatee to do a little storm chasing. Plus, it's not too often I get to chase hurricanes like this, as they are usually the ones chasing me.
Before I left for Port Manatee, about a 20-minute drive, I noticed that the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was closed to all vehicles greater than 2 axles. This didn't bother me any, so I jumped on I-275 South and headed for the Skyway. Since I had a time deadline to get down to Port Manatee, I decided to go down and do what I needed to do and do the storm chasing on the way back. The winds from the outer bands of Ike were out of the west at 35-40 knots, with gusts close to 70. After being blown all over the bridge, I was shocked that the bridge was still open (they close it with sustained winds over 40).
On the way back, I figured I could stop at the Skyway Rest Area and take some pictures. Unfortunately, the winds from the hurricane had blown all the water into Tampa Bay, so both Skyway Rest Areas were underwater. As a matter of fact, if the water had gotten any higher, the Interstate would have been underwater. Since there was nowhere to pull over and stop, I was not able to get any photos, as I was not about to attempt taking pictures while I was getting blown all over the highway. I made it back to St. Pete safely, and while there was plenty of discussion about closing the Skyway, the bridge somehow managed to stay open the whole day.
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