SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Crossing the San Francisco Bay Area’s bridges has been an eerie experience this winter as storms lash the bay with wind and rain. Twinkling lights illuminating the Bay Bridge recently went dark, and this week, the Golden Gate Bridge belted out a wailing melody.
Known officially as “The Bay Lights,” the iconic 1.8-mile light installation by artist Leo Villareal was turned off indefinitely due to lack of funding. The beloved illuminated pathway shined for a decade, but it was not designed to sustain rough coastal weather conditions.
The Bay Bridge’s famous neighbor began “singing” on Tuesday as an atmospheric river blew whipping wind gusts through the city. Motorist Kali Wagner recorded the song as she drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Listen in the video player above).
A wind gust of 77 mph was recorded in San Francisco on Tuesday, the National Weather Service Bay Area said.
The Golden Gate Bridge can withstand extreme, sustained winds of up to 100 mph, according to the Golden Gate Bridge District.
The bridge “sings” when a confluence of sustained high winds passes through one of the bridge’s sidewalk railings at specific angles, the district said.
The district first became aware of strange, high-pitched sounds coming from the Golden Gate Bridge during windy weather in 2020. Acoustics experts concluded that the “singing” is generated from wind passing through a railing that was added as part of the Bridge Wind Retrofit project.
Aerodynamics and acoustics engineers identified two distinct sounds that drivers hear. “The first sound is a low-pitched and low-frequency tone (between 280-700Hz) that is present when wind passes perpendicularly to the railing (from the West) at wind speeds of 22 mph or more. This lower-frequency tone is often heard furthest away from the Bridge. The second tone present during certain high winds is of a higher pitch and frequency (1.1kHz) and is present when wind passes the railing at a slight angle and with speeds of 27 mph or more,” GGBD wrote.