Many who wished for a white Christmas saw their dreams fulfilled as a winter storm struck with a vengeance in parts of the country stretching from the West to the South.
Those in the Midwest and Northeast may see the snow and blustery winds produced by the storm on Wednesday. The storm, named Winter Storm Euclid by the Weather Channel, is wreaking havoc everywhere it goes.
From up to six feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada to freezing rain and ice in Oklahoma City and tornadoes in Alabama, many families have been dealing with the storm’s effects at home or on their Christmas road trips.
Many families hit the road the week of Christmas to visit far-flung family members, often checking the weather forecast with crossed fingers for days in advance.
Like many others, I almost always travel at Christmas, leaving home on Christmas afternoon or early the next day to visit my parents and siblings in the Midwest.
Driving in a little snow around town on the way to work isn’t a big deal to most of us. Driving through a blizzard miles from home is another story entirely.
But it is Christmas time and we often do whatever we need to do to visit family during the holidays. At the same time, we all want to stay safe on the road.
Here are some tips for driving in winter weather that may help those on the road this week. If you are the parent of teens, reinforce lessons they may have already learned by talking about winter driving in the car.
Slow is the key when driving in winter weather. Slow starts and stops, slow gear changes and slow speeds. We’ve all watched ‘that guy’ who flies past us in a four-wheel drive truck and then seen him in the ditch a little while later. Nobody wants to be that guy.
Stopping distances are about double in winter weather as they are on dry roadways. Increase following distances to avoid accidents due to sudden stops.
Use the brakes only when needed and try to avoid breaking while making a turn. It’s safest to break on the straightaways.
In oversteer or understeer situations when the car’s steering seems to have a mind of its own, back off the gas and keep the steering wheel pointed in the direction you want to travel.
Know when to stop on the road. If conditions deteriorate, find a safe place to stop for a while until the storm blows through. This may be a restaurant, shopping center or store or it may be time to find a hotel and call it a day.
Family travel in the winter is always a risky proposition but use caution and take your time and you will eventually get to grandma’s house. Safe travel wishes go out to all of those who are on the road this week.