Many folks in the Midwest and Northeast are steeling themselves against Winter Storm Vulcan, which rapidly turned from a surging powerhouse into a full-fledge blizzard in many areas.
On Monday, about 18 inches fell in parts of central and southwest Montana, and by the time the snow ended on Tuesday, the Northern Black Hills of South Dakota saw up to eight inches. Vulcan skipped over the Central Plains, leaving only a small mixture of snow and rain, but it raged back to full force east of the Mississippi River.
Now as it heads across other parts of the country, accumulation in the midwest is expected in excess of six inches, while a few localized spots could see over a foot, with snowfall rates exceeding two inches per hour. In the Northeast, meteorologists expect widespread snowfall totals of one to two feet, with snowfall rates of one to two inches an hour occurring at times. Localized totals of 24 to 30 inches are also a distinct possibility in parts of northeast New York and northern Vermont.
Naturally, this is terrible news for drivers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, winter weather can impact roadways by lowering visibility and making pavements slick. It can also impede the flow of traffic by reducing roadway capacities, traffic speeds, time delays, and increasing the risk of accidents. What’s more, Vulcan can directly affect your vehicle’s performance, traffic signaling time, speed limit control, and institutional coordination.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things drivers can do to lower the risks of winter driving. According to the AAA, drivers need to make sure that their tires are inflated properly, never to mix different types of tires, to keep gas tanks at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-ups, avoid using the parking break (if possible), avoid using cruise control on slick surfaces, and to, of course, always wear a seat belt.
If you have to go out on the road, just be sure to remember OSHA’s three P’s: Prepare for the trip; Protect yourself; and Prevent crashes on the road.