SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – The Golden Gate Bridge sounded like it was screaming in protest on Saturday. One passenger took this video as the latest in the parade of atmospheric river-fueled storms churned up high winds and heavy rain.
Engineers say that a 2020 retrofitted handrail, to make the bridge safer and more aerodynamic in high winds, is to blame.
The National Weather Service put out an advisory earlier in the day warning of 40+ mph wind gusts. The San Francisco International Airport recorded a wind gust of 60 mph at ground level.
That driver was lucky he and his passenger made it over the bridge safely.
A tractor trailer was not so lucky Saturday evening.
Emergency crews closed the bridge in both directions for hours after the wind blew over a big-rig truck. Wreckers spent the hours trying to right the containers and cab in the high wind and pounding rain.
The California Highway Patrol in Marin County advised drivers of high profile vehicles to avoid the bridge connecting San Francisco to Marin. After the accident, all trucks were banned from the Golden Gate until the winds subsided.
The Golden Gate Bridge spans one mile and sits 746 feet above the chilly water where the Pacific meets the San Francisco Bay.
Why does the bridge wail?
Officials often warn drivers of gusty winds across the span. And since the summer of 2020, residents near the bridge and drivers often hear the screaming or moaning during high winds.
In 2020, engineering crews installed a $12 million redesigned handrail intended to make the bridge more aerodynamic on days when strong winds blow, according to KTVU FOX 2 in San Francisco.
But instead, the air passing through the gaps in the rail hums a haunting tune that can be heard for miles by nearby residents.
"We knew going into the handrail replacement that the Bridge would sing during exceptionally high winds from the west,'' Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, spokesman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, told KTVU FOX 2.
The solution will cost $450,000 million. SF Gate reported that installation is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2023.