Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said the Bay Bridge is likely to close by early Saturday night as he provided his latest media briefing on Hurricane Irene on Friday afternoon.
O’Malley said a precise time for the bridge’s closure has not been fixed and urged residents on the Eastern Shore not to wait until the last minute to head west.
The Maryland Transportation Authority indicated the bridge will remain open unless sustained winds reach 55 miles per hour. Current forecasts indicate wind speeds could reach that point as early as Saturday afternoon.
The governor relayed that several other areas are being evacuated in addition to the barrier island of Ocean City, which was announced Thursday. Those include Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County and low-lying areas in Wicomico County, O’Malley said.
“This is still a very, very deadly storm,” O’Malley said from the State Emergency Operations Centers in Reistertown. “It’s a storm that’s going to cause a lot of damage.”
Richard Muth, executive director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said the storm is likely to start impacting Maryland about 6 p.m. Saturday and last for almost 24 hours. The worst is likely to come about 2 a.m. Sunday, he said.
In response to a reporter’s question, O’Malley said he is planning to spend Friday night at home in Annapolis before returning to the Reistertown facility for what he said will be a very long night there Saturday.