March may be said to come in like a lion, and out like a lamb, but that all depends on where you are driving. In the middle part of the country, tornado season with its wetter weather and strong winds starts to ramp up in March and whirl its way through the end of May, although tornadoes can come any time of the year.
In early spring, you may find yourself traveling during any given day from snow to thunderstorms, then to dry roadways, so it is imperative to keep your eyes on the road and your head in the game on those long days. It can be very challenging driving. Here are a couple of reminders to help you drive your way through springtime:
Watch the Weather Channel in the springtime, and you’ll likely see video of a tractor-trailer rig jackknifed on the interstate. Anyone driving in any vehicle during a tornado is playing with fire, but truckers are especially at risk. If you are driving a 53’ van that is full or empty, you can be a huge target for a strong straight line wind. But with tornadoes, winds can reach velocities of 300 miles-per-hour. You can become a deadly moving target. Tornado season east of the Rockies runs from early spring to late summer, with the peak at March through May. They can occur any time of day, but are most likely between 3pm and 9pm.
High winds are dangerous for any high profile vehicle, and there is nothing more high profile than your rig. When you feel the winds start pushing you around, pull off the highway and idle on an exit ramp or truck stop until the storms literally blows through.
As you know, one of the biggest problems with heavy rain is the lack of clarity in your vision seeing through the windshield. Compounding the problem is that other drivers; in front, back and to the side of you, can’t see well, either. This is good practice regardless of weather, but be sure to fill your windshield washer fluid more often when you stop for fuel. There are products sold (like Rain-X) that can help prevent water from sheeting on your windshield. Don’t forget the inside of your windshield, either. Wipe it down and get rid of any smudges or fingerprints so that isn’t causing an additional block to your view of the road. Think about what it looks like when oncoming traffic is using headlights at night when your windshield is blurry. Taking a few minutes now to make sure it is as clear as possible is a good safety practice, and may help avoid an accident.
Every truck and car owner dreads being caught on the road in a hailstorm, while most car dealers love the upcoming ‘hail damage’ sales. Typically, a hail storm doesn’t last a long time but it can cause enormous damage. If possible, pull off the highway to a safe location. If you can, park in a way that your windshield is not facing the oncoming hail storm.
We can tend to take lightning too lightly. That’s a huge mistake. Think about it: during a storm with a lot of cloud-to-ground lightning, the lightning is drawn to the tallest metal object. On a highway, that may well be you in your big rig. So your odds are higher at being hit by lightning than your fellow car drivers. Best to find the safest place to pull off the road. If that place is a truck stop, steer clear of parking near the fuel pumps.
Bottom Line in Extremely Dangerous Weather Conditions
Do not pull your rig under an overpass. There have been several instances when people were killed by a tornado while under an overpass as the wind speed can increase and you can be sucked out from underneath the bridge.
Do not stay in your truck, but instead, try to make it to the nearest building.
If you are on the road in the middle of nowhere and you cannot find shelter, get to the lowest point on the ground and lie flat on your stomach, with your hands over your head.
Do not think you can outrun a tornado. Tornadoes are fickle and can turn direction with no notice.
Be aware of the potential for flash flooding, as you may be driving in an area prone to it, but it could be a new route for you and you are unaware of the dangers.
Stay connected with severe weather updates, on mobile apps or on the radio. If you run the same route often, get to know a good TV affiliate and radio station in the area that provides live weather coverage. They can be a lifeline for you!
At Fleet Oil & Truck Supply, your safety means the world to us. Contact us if we can be of assistance to you!