One of the first things we think about when it comes to extreme weather is the inevitable power outage.
How will our home stay cool in hot weather or warm in cold weather when there’s a blackout? And how will our food stay fresh when there’s no electricity to keep the refrigerator and freezer working?
But how we suffer from the effects of extreme weather events is not limited to when we’re indoors. Not by a long shot. We’re vulnerable to a wide variety of issues outside our homes when severe weather strikes.
It could be serious, multi-vehicle accidents on roadways or gridlocked traffic that leaves us stranded for hours. Or closed roads that force us into unfamiliar territory or high gas prices resulting from supply chain problems.
Today I want to take a closer look at some of the problems we face on the roads due to inclement weather. And how we can better prepare for them.
Hurricanes Brewing in Atlantic Ocean
With the Atlantic Ocean churning up following a relatively calm start to the hurricane season, analysts are talking about gas prices again.
They were already at a 10-month high last month, averaging $3.88 per gallon nationally. Which was 31 cents higher per gallon than the previous month. In a dozen states, the average cost of a gallon of gas was $4 or more. That’s according to the American Automobile Association.
Those increases were attributed mostly to production cuts from countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia.
In addition, heat waves in the U.S. caused disruptions in some refinery activity, which pushed prices up for the gas that was available.
Gulf of Mexico Is a Target
The biggest concern regarding potentially higher gas prices over the next couple of months is the hurricane risk. It has gone up as ocean temperatures continue to rise.
Those rising sea temps are capable of limiting the effects of the El Niño weather pattern that normally works to keep Atlantic Ocean storms from entering the Gulf Mexico.
That’s where the major U.S. refineries are located. It’s also from where energy exports such as liquefied natural gas are launched. And where offshore oil production occurs.
When major hurricanes (Category 3 and above) strike in the Gulf of Mexico, it can negatively affect gasoline supplies for weeks and perhaps months. And that means prices go even higher.
New England Got Slammed
With sizzling temperatures across the country during the spring and the recently completed summer, few of us have thought much about snow. But it’s coming, and it’s certain to cause major problems for drivers this fall and winter.
Just last January, a major snowstorm caused more than 100 automobile accidents in New England. It killed drivers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It also produced power outages for thousands and resulted in school closings.
Officials lowered the speed limit to 45 miles per hour across New Hampshire due to the snow, ice, and poor visibility. But the state still had numerous accidents. Including those involving tractor-trailers and rollovers.
With more than a foot of snow falling in some areas of New England, roads were a mess everywhere. Some drivers fortunate enough to avoid accidents were still stuck for hours in some places.
Ice Storm Down South
Arkansas drivers who might have thought, “It can’t happen to me,” learned differently in January.
A major ice storm resulted in a series of vehicle crashes on Interstate 40 and Highway 70. It brought traffic to a standstill.
The Forrest City Fire Department warned drivers of the problem. They referred to “extremely hazardous driving conditions” and posted photos of accidents involving semi-trucks.
Farmers’ Almanac Predicts Harsh Winter
Of course, those were just two of the many weather-related accidents and miles-long backups that occurred last winter and spring. Not to mention every year.
What’s going to happen this fall and winter? Well, the Farmers’ Almanac says “the brrr’ is back” with “more snow and low temperatures nationwide.”
The publication’s editors predict that the increases in snow and the lower temps will be especially notable in the Great Lakes region, the Midwest, and northern New England areas.
They’re calling for blizzards in December in several areas of the country, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, and even New Mexico.
Prepare Your Car for Winter
Your best bet when it comes to avoiding potential deadly accidents during extreme weather is staying off the roads. But that’s not always possible.
So, it’s important to have your vehicle as winter-ready as you can. That includes making sure you have a good spare tire, as well as working windshield wipers and defrosters for front and back windshields. Also, make sure your battery is in good shape.
You also want to build or purchase an emergency car kit that will help you deal with whatever occurs out on those roads. Make sure it’s as comprehensive as possible, because you never know what you might need.
It’s just a matter of time before severe weather hits while you’re driving. The better prepared you are for it, the better you’ll be able to handle it – safely and securely.