The Pineapple Express is more than just a movie; it is the name of an atmospheric river that will be bringing soaking rain and snow in mountainous areas to California. Following the deluges in southern California last week that netted 1.8 billion gallons of water in the areas dams, tonight’s storm is predicted to be one of the strongest since October 2009 in terms of wind and rain intensity.
While this is good news for those in areas struggling with drought, it also means possible flooding, mudslides and damaging winds for much of the Sacramento area. Residents are urged to use extreme caution on the highways and in their homes to protect themselves from possible danger.
How Does Weather Affect Traffic?
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program, weather can have a serious impact on safety when traveling on the highways. There are several things that impact conditions and lead to crashes, including:
- Wind speed. The speed of the wind can influence blowing snow or rain, reducing visibility and leading to crashes. Further, wind can actually push cars around on the road, particularly if they are hydroplaning due to sudden water on the road surface.
- Rain and snow can definitely cause accidents, as these substances tend to change the coefficient of friction on the surface of the road, making it easy to slip and slide.
- Low visibility caused by fog has been the cause of many accidents, some of them quite seriously.
- Pavement temperature. As pavement temperature cools and approaches freezing, sliding may become more of a problem. While ice is not common in some parts of the state, it does affect roads in the mountainous areas.
- Pavement condition. Broken or cracked pavement is more likely to contribute to a crash, especially for a motorcycle rider, than whole pavement.
- Water level. Sudden rises in water levels can easily cause damage to cars and danger to drivers.
How Can I Avoid Weather-Related Crashes?
The best way to avoid weather-related crashes is to avoid driving during storms and flooding. Of course, this is not always possible, so if you must venture out, be sure to follow these safety rules:
- Slow down. You should match your speed to the conditions, not the speed limit. The slower you go, the less likely it is that you will hydroplane and the more time you have to make decisions in case of an emergency.
- Brake carefully. Do not slam on your brakes; this causes skids and spins. Instead, pump your brakes as you come to a stop. This also has the benefit of letting those behind you know that you are stopping in plenty of time to avoid a rear-end collision.
- Never enter standing water. You should never enter standing water in your vehicle, even if you believe that the water is very shallow. Many people have been tricked into thinking that water was only a few inches deep, only to find that they were quickly surrounded by floodwaters.
- Yield the right-of-way. Being right is not as important as being safe when you are behind the wheel. If someone cuts you off, let him or her have the lead, even if you are angry. Remember, your goal is to arrive home safely, not win an argument in your car.
If you suffer injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is important to have someone who will stand up for your rights. A personal injury attorney will help you hold those accountable who do not observe care and safety when driving, and may be able to help you recover damages for your injuries.