The kinds of bad weather hotshot truckers have to deal with are discussed in this article. Learn these helpful precautions before starting on your trip.
As a hotshot trucker, bad weather comes with the territory.
As you travel through various states, you’ll sometimes experience severe — sometimes dangerous — weather conditions. Things can change quickly. One day you’re driving through windy, dry plains. The next day you’re driving through a snowstorm. The utter unpredictability of it all can cause inconveniences, delays, interstate shutdowns, accidents, and even death.
So you’ll need to know and even master the weather patterns in the places you’ll be traveling. Foresight and proactive planning will prevent any possible challenges or dangers on the road.
Here are eight weather conditions you should be aware of and well-prepared for:
1. Dust Storms
Dust storms are marked by strong winds and dust-filled air. There’s more than one type of dust storm, but the most severe and dangerous is called monsoonal dust storm. It is the thickest and largest kind. It can be as wide as 100 miles, traveling up to 60 miles per hour and for as long as 200 miles on the extreme. Most dust storms occur in the south and southwest parts of the US including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
It’s tough to deal with dust storms when there is zero visibility on the road. If you find yourself caught in the middle of a dust storm, the safest thing to do is to pull over. Wait for it to pass over. In the meantime, keep your windows and doors tightly closed.
2. Extreme Heat
High temperatures in the middle of a long trip in a desert can also cause many problems. First, it can melt your tires. 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 would be wise to park when the heat is at its peak and then just continue when temperatures have cooled somewhat.
While fog is considered the least serious compared to other weather conditions, a lot of road accidents happen when it’s foggy. When visibility is poor, find a safe place to stop. Try to avoid stopping on the shoulder of the road as your trailer’s tail lights may confuse the traffic behind.
4. Freezing Rain
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. It typically 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. It’s a 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 will 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.
Hailstorms can occur all year round. But some of the most destructive hailstorms happen in the summer. Thankfully, they are typically short-lived and usually last only for a few minutes. Their velocity also varies depending on their size and shape. For instance, one-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 Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Hailstones 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 precautions when using your brakes to avoid jackknifing. If you can, let the storm pass first before continuing on your trip.
6. Heavy Snow
If there is heavy snow on the forecast, you should have your tire chains handy. And if the weather turns awful, it would be safer to 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. Bring extra food and warm clothing on board just in case you get stuck.
7. Strong Winds
No matter the size of your vehicle, a strong wind can pose a dangerous threat on the road, especially if you have an empty or exceptionally lightweight load and you’re 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 you.
If you’re driving in windy weather, be extra cautious and aware of your surroundings. If you feel that your vehicle is going the direction of a sidewind, steer slowly to the opposite direction to stay on track. Headwinds and tailwinds are not that difficult to deal with compared to side winds, but you still need to be extra careful. If the wind is powerful, find a safe place to park.
Crossing paths with a tornado is perhaps one of the worst things you could ever experience or imagine. This is when it 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. Move at right angles to the tornado. Then look for a safe place to park, 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.
The Bottom Line
Extreme weather conditions can be hard to deal with. It’s therefore essential to take the necessary preparations and precautions before you start your trip. Check weather conditions to avoid surprises. While on the road, continuously monitor weather conditions as they can change anytime. If you’re in the middle of nasty weather, remember the safety tips we listed above. Anything else we missed? Let us know in the comments below!