Cincinnati is known for its volatile weather. The summer thunderstorms with heavy rain and tornado risk can make driving hazardous. Navigating the elements takes great caution and preparedness, no matter if you’re pulling out of a lot with a new car or driving home after work.
There are some basic equipment and techniques you should consider if you’re ever faced with a potentially dangerous storm on Colerain or other roads in the Cincy area.
Always check weather reports before heading out, especially if it looks like a storm is coming. Thunderstorms and torrential downpours are part of the Cincinnati driving experience. When that giant grey cloud formation turns into a driving rain that makes it difficult to see, The Weather Channel urges drivers to “pull safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.” It’s better to be safe than sorry. Stay in your car and put the flashing hazard lights on to indicate to anyone behind you that you’ve stopped on the shoulder.
FEMA adds that an automobile “provides better insulation against lightning than being in the open.” If there is a tornado warning, however, driving is never a safe option. If you can help it, never venture out during an active tornado warning. The safest place is underground. If you do happen to be driving when there is a tornado risk, Fox 19 suggests immediately going to a nearby building and waiting on the lowest level. Tornadoes change direction quickly and a sturdy building is the safest place to wait until the danger passes.
When inclement weather is the norm, the kind of car you have is important. Buying a car in Cincy requires a fair amount of due diligence. According to DriveTime, “Buy Here Pay Here” car lots may not be the best option in Cincinnati, where you need a reliable car for multiple natural conditions. But no matter if you’re in a new car or your old reliable vehicle, it’s important to know when to react to bad weather.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about winter driving safety. Traffic safety experts recommend you avoid driving while you’re tired in general, but perhaps even more so in the winter when a slight moment of delay could leave you sliding off the road.
Winters in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky can be pretty brutal. The American Automobile Association advises motorists to make sure tires are properly inflated, that the gas tank is at least half full to avoid the gas line freezing, and avoid cruise control while driving on slippery surfaces, among other simple tips.
The AAA also suggests, when driving in snow, to “accelerate and decelerate slowly” and that “applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.”
Fishtailing on a busy street is just about the worst feeling for a driver. When you lose traction, be careful not to panic and start pumping the brakes. That does nothing. Steering gently, with your foot off the gas and brake, will give the car a moment to regain traction. It’s unnerving, but it’s important to remain calm rather than rushing the vehicle into a more serious situation.
The City of Cincinnati also reminds residents to keep the windshield fluid full, to charge the battery, and check the tire pressure regularly. City officials recommend keeping the following emergency supplies in the car during the long winter: ice scrapers, snow brushes, blankets, shovels, jumper cables, flares, sand, extra clothing, de-icer, matches, candles, flashlights, cell phone, water and non-perishable food.
Cincinnati storms are classic Midwestern issues — ice and snow in the winter, tornado risks in the spring and thunderstorms in the summer. If you can remember these basic safety tips, it’s smooth driving the rest of the year.