A lot of the perks of living in Tampa involve the gorgeous climate. There are plenty of amazing things to do in Florida that involve the weather, but like any place, things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. In fact, Florida can experience a number of severe weather events that make it quite difficult to call Florida the Sunshine State.
For a lot of Florida residents, their experience dealing with severe weather is vastly lower than those in other parts of the country. For example, if you’ve lived your entire life in Florida, you’ve likely never dealt with snow or earthquakes. Which isn’t to trivialize what we do experience here, including flash flooding and hurricanes. The climate just lends itself to warmer, drier weather than other parts of the South and Eastern states.
When it comes to driving in severe weather, the trick is to stay calm and follow a few key tips that can keep you safe until you reach your destination. As we’ll discuss, there are even some instances where the safest thing to do is to pull over and wait things out. We’ll go over different scenarios and tips for best traversing Florida’s severe weather. Let’s first start with what sort of weather is most common in the Sunshine State.
The Most Dangerous Severe Weather in Florida
Florida isn’t known to have many snowstorms or mudslides, but severe weather is still a threat in this part of the country. A number of some of the world’s most deadly weather events can occur in the state of Florida. Most notably, hurricanes pose a huge risk. The past few years have seen an increase in the number of hurricanes making landfall.
More commonly, flash floods and severe thunderstorms pose a big risk for Florida drivers. The former occurs in a number of different parts of the state. Flash floods are particularly dangerous because much of Florida is low-lying. In just a few hours, heavy rainfall can submerge roads, stranding drivers and causing vehicles to stall.
Severe thunderstorms are also a major risk to Florida drivers. While tornadoes aren’t commonly connected in Florida, they do still occur. In fact, Florida experiences the third most tornadoes in the country, just behind Kansas and top-ranked Texas. Lightning, high winds, and low visibility due to harsh rains can make driving safely all but impossible. So, what do you do when stuck driving in severe weather in Florida?
Driving Tips: What to Do When You’re Stuck Driving in Severe Weather
If you’re on the road during severe weather, there are a few driving tips you can follow to keep yourself and fellow drivers safe. First, ensure your windshield wipers are on. If you have wipers on the rear window of your car, use them too. It’s probably a good time to note that you should check the condition of your windshield wipers before severe weather strikes. If they’re frayed or falling apart, replace them now before the weather surprises you for the worse. And remember, if your wipers are on, your headlights should be on too.
Overall, the best thing to do in severe weather is to slow down. If you absolutely can’t see, you’ll want to be sure to pull over as well. Safely getting to a place to stop might not be possible, though, especially on the interstate. In this case, slow and steady is the name of the game. Speeding, or even going the speed limit, can be enough in severe weather and heavy rain to make you lose control of your car. If you see others speeding or going fast, don’t assume you’re being too cautious. Always drive at a speed that leans more towards safe than sorry.
When you can safely pull over, do so. It’s safer to sit and wait for heavy rain and thunder to subside. If tornadoes are present, you may want to exit the vehicle and head to a ditch or covered area. When possible, get inside a building with a basement or strong interior room.
Florida Weather’s Secret Threat: Driving in High Winds
With the relatively low terrain of Florida, there’s a secret version of severe weather that many overlook when behind the wheel: high winds. The trick to driving with high winds in a car is that your control of the car can be incredibly sensitive. Something like a big gust after relatively smooth winds can be enough to send you out of your lane, into a ditch, or into a median.
When winds are incredibly high, be sure to keep both hands on the wheel. Rather than following the old “10 and 2” rules, our driving tips say to keep them more closely to “9 and 3” on the steering wheel. This provides you with better control over the vehicle. When possible, try not to be on the road with high winds. If you drive a semi-truck, then especially ensure you can find a safe place to pull over. The larger your vehicle, the more dangerous it is to drive in Florida’s high winds.
Traffic Considerations for Severe Weather in Florida: Do Hazards Help?
A popular thing you see in heavy rain or low visibility severe weather is drivers turn on their hazard lights. In Florida, the law prohibits this action, no matter how low visibility is.
Why is that?
Well, there are a couple of reasons. Hazard lights are more confusing than cautionary in low visibility. Hazard lights usually signify a car that has stopped moving, so other drivers may think you’re stopped when really you are still driving. There are a lot of confusing aspects to using hazards in severe weather, so avoid them.
Severe weather can strike at any moment. When meteorologists call for thunderstorms, you never know how serious things might get. In short, be sure to follow these suggestions next time you’re driving during severe weather. Overall, the key is to stay calm, drive cautiously, and always keep your eyes on the road and other drivers. It’s important to remember that you can’t control other drivers, but you can control yourself. Make sure you do everything you can to get to your destination safely.
No one wants to get in an accident, but if you do, know that you have support. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call the team at Burnett Law.