No matter what time of year it is, drivers in Fort Collins and throughout Colorado are subjected to quite a few severe and extreme weather situations. Fort Collins automotive shops can repair your car, and help you with your vehicle needs in the aftermath of weather damage, but how do you react when caught in a flash flood or lightning storm? If you have lived in the area for at least a month, chances are you have experienced some kind of severe weather, be it high winds or a sudden intense thunderstorm. These events are no respecters of persons, locations, or a particular time of day. Bad weather can and does occur everywhere, at anytime, and to anyone.

In the Winter months, extreme weather is more predictable. We know we will have cold weather and snow, even blizzards. The rest of the year in Colorado it is typical to anticipate a greater variety of weather problems. In the warmer months, when we don’t need our snow boots and heavy coats, we do need to be more vigilant about things like flash flooding, lightning, hail and tornadoes. These weather events typically happen in the Spring, Summer and Fall in Colorado. At least we don’t get hurricanes, although we do get to experience just about every other type of extreme weather nature is capable of producing.

Your Fort Collins auto repair shop will advise you to keep a basic emergency kit in your car just for these situations, as well as have a familiarity with bad weather, and how to react when caught in an extreme weather condition. Fort Collins automotive services include keeping you as informed and safe as possible to prevent not only auto damage, but injury to yourself.

hail damage
CC Image courtesy of Vincent Parsons via Flickr

Hail

Colorado’s damaging hail season is from mid-April to mid-August. Colorado’s Front Range is located in the heart of “Hail Alley,” which receives the highest frequency of large hail in North America and most of the world, so residents usually can count on three or four catastrophic (defined as at least $25 million in insured damage) hail storms every year. In the last 10 years, hailstorms have caused more than $3 billion in insured damage in Colorado. Here are some safety tips on how to react if caught in a hail storm while driving:

  • If you see a storm approaching, don’t try and outrun it.
  • Turn on your low beam headlights, and slow down. These two simple steps go a longway in both making you visible to other vehicles, and driving appropriately for weather conditions. Both the driving hail, and the darkened skies that occur during a hail storm can significantly impact visibility.
  • Create more space between your car, and any cars ahead of you, allowing extra brakingdistance between vehicles. Approach cross streets and intersections cautiously, other drivers will be as visually impaired as you are.
  • Treat traffic lights as stop signs.
  • Watch out for trees. If pulling off the road, don’t park under any trees that could fall on the vehicle. If at all possible, pull your car under some form of shelter, even an overhanging awning of a business will help. Getting your vehicle out of the receiving end of hail will help minimize damage to the car.
  • Stay in your car. If you need to pull over, remain in your vehicle and turn on theemergency flashers. People are injured and killed by hailstones, don’t put yourself at risk.
  • Avoid downed power lines, they most likely are still carrying electric charges, and could electrocute you or your vehicle.
  • After the storm, remove any broken glass or other debris from your vehicle. Contact your auto insurance agency, and set up an appointment with your Fort Collins auto repair provider.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

lightning
CC Image courtesy of cngodles via Flickr
  • Turn on your headlights (low beams) and slow down. Be sure and allow extra space for braking.
  • If you see a funnel cloud, or other extreme weather, don’t try and outrun it.
  • If you can pull over, drive safely onto the shoulder of the road away from any trees that could fall on the vehicle.
  • Remain in your car and turn on the emergency flashers until the storm subsides.
  • If you’re experiencing lightning, stay in your car. It will provide you some measure ofinsulation against a lightning strike, whereas being out in the open during a lightning storm will give you no protection. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to lightning for it to present a danger.
  • Avoid contact with any metal conducting surfaces either within the car or outside of the vehicle.
  • If a roadway is flooded, avoid it.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Approach intersections cautiously, and anticipate treating traffic lights as stop signs. The power can go out during electrical storms, disabled stop lights, so you and other drivers will need to be cautious and courteous.
  • Check your windshield wipers and tires regularly to insure that they are ready for severe weather.
  • Once the storm has passed, check your vehicle for damage, and contact your car insurance carrier and Fort Collins auto repair shop for any needed claims or repair.

Sources:
//www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/thunder.html
//www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/tornado.html
//www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/hail.html