If you run a longer route traversing through different states, it is not unusual to experience severe and sometimes dangerous weather conditions. There are even those who drive into windy and dry plains and then drive straight through a snowy highway all in one day. Bad weather causes anything from delays, inconvenience, interstate shutdowns, accidents and even death.
If you are in the hotshot trucking business, it is essential that you know the weather patterns in the places where you will be travelling. Advance preparations can go a long way as it helps you anticipate possible challenges or dangers on the road.
Here are several weather conditions you may deal with:
Many truckers would agree that this is perhaps one of the most challenging weather conditions to tackle. Freezing rain can be difficult to forecast as the slightest change in temperature can alter it to become sleet or snow instead. It also does not occur as frequently as other weather conditions and typically it just covers a narrow band of about 50 kilometers wide. When the drops of this rain touch the ground, they freeze instantly, forming a slippery thin film of ice on the highway. This is a very dangerous condition to drive in as it can be nearly impossible to control your vehicle.
Almost all areas east of the Rocky Mountains may experience freezing rain during the cold months. If you are driving in these areas, it would help if you have a weather forecasting app. Also, when you see that ice is starting to form on your windshield and the outside temperature is dropping, find a safe exit or resting place immediately and get off the road right away.
If there is a forecasted heavy snow, you should have your tire chains handy. And if the weather turns really bad, it would be safer to just get off the road and wait for the weather to improve.
While it is not ideal to drive under heavy snow, if you must because of urgent deliveries, be sure to gas up before the trip as well as to bring extra food and warm clothing on board just in case you get stuck on the road.
Dust storms are characterized by strong winds and dust-filled air. There are three types of dust storms and the most severe and dangerous is the monsoonal dust storm as it is the thickest and largest kind. It can be as wide as 100 miles, travelling up to 60 miles per hour and for as long as 200 miles on extreme. Most dust storms occur in the south and southwest parts of the US including Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Oklahoma.
No matter the size or duration of the dust storm, it is a very difficult condition to deal with as a driver since there can be zero visibility on the road. If you caught one in the middle of your trip, the safest thing to do is to pull over and wait for it to pass over. And make sure to keep your windows and doors tightly closed.
Hailstorms can occur whole year round. You’ll also be surprised that some of the most destructive hailstorms occur in the summer. Thankfully, they are typically short-lived and usually last for only a few minutes. Their velocity also varies depending on their size and shape. For instance, 1-inch diameter hailstones can travel about 50 mph while hailstones the size of a baseball can travel at 85 mph. The areas that are prone to hail include some cities in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.
With the hard exteriors of hailstones falling at a fast speed, they cause extensive damage to property. For truckers, this could mean possible damage to the windshield and body of the truck. Visibility is also compromised. Moreover as the road becomes more slippery, it is necessary to take extra precaution when using your brakes to avoid jackknifing. If you can, let the storm pass first before continuing on your trip.
No matter the size of your vehicle, a strong wind can pose a dangerous threat on the road. This is especially true if you have an empty or exceptionally lightweight load and you are on a wide open interstate. Sudden gusts of strong wind combined with fast driving can easily cause accidents. The faster your truck moves, the lesser control you’ll have over it and the lesser time you’ll have to react once a strong wind catches on you.
If you are driving in windy weather, be extra cautious and aware of your surroundings. If you feel that your vehicle is going the direction of a side wind, steer slowly to the opposite direction to stay on track. Head and tail winds are not that difficult to deal with compared to side winds but you still need to be extra careful. If the wind is really strong, find a safe place to park.
High temperatures at the middle of a long trip in a desert can also cause many problems. First, it can melt your tires. Not only that, your engine is also more prone to overheating and motor damage. In worst situations, you may find your truck broken in the middle of nowhere.
It is a wise decision to park when the heat is at its peak and then continue with your trip when temperatures have cooled.
While fog is considered as the least serious compared to other weather conditions, a lot of road accidents happen in a foggy day. When visibility becomes an issue, find a safe place to stop. If you can, avoid stopping on the shoulder of the road as your trailer’s tail lights may cause confusion to the traffic behind.
Crossing paths with a tornado is perhaps one of the worst things you could ever experience or imagine. This is when it really pays to check the weather forecast before hitting the road. But if you are already on the road and you see one on your path, drive away from it, moving at right angles to the tornado. Find a safe place to stop such as at a truck stop. One thing you shouldn’t do is to stop under an underpass as the winds can be stronger in these openings.
Extreme weather conditions can be hard to deal with. As a hotshot trucker, it’s important to always do the necessary preparations and precautions before you start your trip. Check weather conditions to avoid surprises. While on the road, constantly monitor the weather condition as it can change anytime. If you still find yourself in the middle of a nasty weather, remember the safety tips we listed above.