ROLLER COASTER RIDE
Since the start of this week, the central U.S. is being hammered with a lot of rain, a lot of snow, and a lot of hail, some of which was reported to be about three-inches in diameter. This weather follows what is shaping up to be a turn-around from what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) previously noted as weather conditions that were the 2nd warmest year to date, and the 9th warmest March on record. With warm sunny days and temperatures in the 70’s and up, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) now estimates a snow probability and cold weather forecast for the fourth week of spring.
A heavy rain storm started on Monday and moved toward the east and down through the south, where there is the threat of more rain and some considerable snow in northern areas across the U.S. By Tuesday, more heavy rain will begin to work its way up from the Gulf and clash with the warmer air, resulting in a severe threat to the southern plains, as far south as Midland, Texas and up all the way to Chicago. There is also the risk of tornadoes occurring in early April rather than the usual peak tornado season in May. Drivers have to be prepared for the rough, dangerous weather that is occurring in a large part of country. It’s a change in weather dynamics with unseasonably clear, sunny, warm days followed by snow storms quickly accumulating up to 5” or more. So be ready to deal with conditions.
- Perform a thorough pre-trip inspection to have your vehicle ready to deal with the conditions.
- Be familiar with your route and plan it as best you can to avoid the worst of the weather.
- Understand that conditions can change rapidly and slowing down is your first line of defense.
- Keep your distance from other vehicles around you.
- Prepare yourself for active, wintry weather that can continue well into April, and be prepared to slow down gradually so that you can avoid the sudden stops in heavy snows and extreme winds.
- Watch for debris in the road resulting from the windy conditions.
- Rain reduces visibility and traction, so slow down and avoid driving through large puddles of water that accumulate in just about any part of a roadway surface.
- Know when to stop. When visibility is so limited that the edges of the road or other vehicles cannot be seen at a safe distance, it’s time to pull over at a protected area until conditions improve.
- If possible, if you’re faced with severe weather, consider avoiding the trip until the weather is more accommodating.
Don’t let the unseasonable, dramatic change in weather be a surprise. Know the forecast for the day you drive as well as several days ahead. Don’t let your guard down. Even a beautiful spring day can turn suddenly. Be prepared, slow down and drive defensively.