High winds and an overturned tractor trailer closed the eastbound and westbound spans of the Bay Bridge for several hours Wednesday afternoon. It reopened to passenger vehicles in both directions just after 6 p.m.
The accident happened at about 2 p.m., when the westbound vehicle was struck by a gust of wind and forced against the guardrail. The passenger-side tires of both the trailer and cab were lifted from the pavement. The trailer was twisted like a piece of aluminum foil.
The strong winds, which topped out at about 55 mph, hampered emergency crews trying to right the truck and tow it from the scene and forced the MdTA to close both spans of the bridge.
A wind warning was in effect at the bridge late Wednesday night. The Key Bridge is operating under wind restrictions: No empty house or tractor trailers, speed limit of 40 mph.
State Highway Administration officials were warning afternoon and evening commuters that winds and flooding in low-lying areas could create hazardous road conditions.
"Tonight could pose problems for drivers so we ask everyone to use caution and 'Know Before You Go' by checking 511 for conditions," SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a statement. "If you encounter our crews, remember to leave plenty of following distance and never try to pass the large plow trucks."
Just before noon Wednesday, SHA salt trucks were idling under highway overpasses in Howard and Anne Arundel counties, trying to protect their loads from the driving rain.
Agency spokesman Charlie Gischlar said the crews remain poised to hit the road should the rain turn to snow or ice this afternoon or pavement sensors indicate the temperature is dropping.
"There's only so much you can do in the rain. You don't want to treat the roads only to have it wash away. Forecasters have told us the temperature is going to drop, and we are ready to move," Gischlar said. "From Carroll County west, we do have our plow blades down on the pavement."
Gischlar said the storm is increasing the danger of hydroplaning.
"Folks are getting complacent, thinking they dodged the snow bullet, and they are starting to put the hammer down. You hit some ponding at high speed and you lose control. Slow down," he said.
The Maryland Transit Authority reported that Brunswick line service was suspended on Wednesday due to weather conditions and shortage of crews. It also said the Camden line was operating on an "S" schedule on Wednesday, meaning that only trains with an "S" below the train number in the system timetable would operate. Penn Line trains moved to an "S" schedule as of 9 a.m. Wednesday.