Driving in Severe Storms

Flooding, high winds, and hail are just a few of the dangers you can encounter during severe storms. The official Atlantic hurricane season for 2016 is June 1st through November 30th, but severe conditions can crop up any time of year. The best advice is to avoid driving during severe weather, but sometimes you have no choice. If you find yourself caught out in a storm, there are several things to keep in mind that will improve your chance of survival.

Not Just a Puddle

When you’re driving at highway speeds, hitting a puddle of water is like hitting a patch of ice. It’s a phenomenon called hydroplaning, and it can happen at any speed when there is more than one-tenth of an inch of water on the road, but it is most likely when you are travelling at speeds higher than 35 mph. During hydroplaning, you lose contact with the surface of the road, so you have no traction and no control.


High winds create a multitude of hazards, including directly affecting the behavior of your vehicle. When strong winds get under your car it can produce enough lift to reduce traction, which affects steering and breaking. A strong gust hitting your vehicle from the side can push you into another lane or off the road.

When driving in high or gusty winds, slow down to maintain as much traction as possible, and keep a firm grip on the wheel to minimize getting blown off course.


The top advice for driving in a hailstorm is to stop your vehicle, preferably under a bridge or overpass. Driving increases the impact of the hailstones on your vehicle, making it more likely that your windshield or windows will be shattered. Hail decreases visibility, and the deafening noise is distracting for drivers. Hail can also accumulate on the roadway creating very hazardous conditions.

If you cannot safely stop in hail, slow down and turn on your headlights so that other vehicles can see you.

To learn more about driving in upcoming hazardous weather conditions, read Avoiding Accidents on Icy Roads.

Avatar About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.