Severe weather, tornado watch dos and don’ts: AAA

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many Central Virginia drivers are likely to face hazardous driving conditions today due to severe thunderstorms that are threatening to bring strong winds, hail and the possibility of isolated tornadoes, warns AAA.

The auto club is advising motorists to exercise extreme caution and to delay travel until the storm passes.

“Today’s severe weather risk can pose dangerous driving conditions for motorists,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “The best and safest advice is, of course, to delay travel until weather conditions improve.”

AAA:  Severe weather and tornado watch dos and don’ts

  • A “tornado warning” means a twister is developing or is actually on the ground. It is more severe than a “tornado watch,” which means conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms, which may or may not spawn twisters.
  • If a tornado warning is issued for your area, leave your vehicle immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado. Your vehicle will offer no protection from a twister. It is impossible to know which direction a tornado may decide to go.
  • Seek shelter indoors. A basement is safest. Closets or small interior rooms are best. Stay away all windows. Get under a solid piece of furniture or a mattress.
  • If you are caught in the open with no substantial buildings available, find a ditch, ravine or low-lying area and lie flat. Stay away from roadway overpasses.
  • Do not seek shelter in a mobile home. These structures, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
  • Be wary of high wind conditions –– Larger trucks are more affected by high winds, so give them plenty of room on the roadways.
  • Remember, wet roads mean poor traction. Conditions are most dangerous during the first ten minutes of a heavy downpour as oil and debris wash away. Slow down. Take it easy and brake slowly. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Never use your motor vehicle’s cruise control feature in inclement weather.  If you begin to experience a skid, the system may interpret the skid-induced reduction in speed as a need to apply more engine power, making it harder to recover from a skid.
  • Remember to turn on your vehicle’s headlights at the first sign of darkness or decreased visibility.  In Virginia and many other states, it is the law to turn on your headlights when your windshield wipers are on.
  • Turn on your hazard lights to indicate to other drivers that upcoming road conditions are severe.
  • Stay up to date on changing weather conditions by tuning into local media reports.
  • Turn around, don’t drown – The National Weather Service data shows that nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related. Ironically, many drivers rescued from flood waters report that they were in a hurry to get home-to safety as a reason for tempting the danger of driving into water. The safest practice during a flood or flash flood is to avoid driving onto water-covered roadways, even if the water depth appears low. Water depth is very difficult to estimate on roads, especially at night, when many flood deaths occur. In the case of a flash flood, water rises very quickly. Water that covered a road by only 6 inches at one moment could easily be 2 to 3 feet deep just seconds later.
  • Buckle up and get rid of distractions, such as music and cell phones, so you can concentrate on driving.

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