Winter Storms Leave Drivers Stranded – Be Prepared
I hope you weren't driving on Interstate 80 in Iowa earlier this month. During yet another snowstorm, high winds created whiteout conditions resulting in a 40-vehicle pileup.
There were at least a dozen overturned and jackknifed semi-trailer trucks. Authorities shut down the interstate between Colfax and Newton in central Iowa.
Hundreds of people were stranded in their vehicles for hours as the weather continued to worsen.
State troopers walked from vehicle to vehicle, checking on motorists. There were a few serious injuries and several minor ones from the mess caused by Winter Storm Peggy.
3 Feet of Snow!
Also in early February, a deadly winter storm that had pummeled the Midwest and Great Lakes region roared into New England.
There it dumped nearly three feet of snow in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A number of airports and roads were closed.
Two people in Connecticut had to be rescued from their pickup truck after they were hit with heavy snow and high winds.
In New Jersey, state police reported they had responded to more than 660 vehicle crashes. And to more than 1,000 motorists in a 24-hour period.
Cars Stuck in Ditches
In late January, back-to-back winter storms dumped 15 inches of snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It marked the city's largest snow accumulation in a decade. That's according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.
The snowfall was so heavy that some emergency vehicles had a difficult time responding to accidents.
In Racine County south of Milwaukee, more than 50 car crashes were reported. In Kenosha County farther south, deputies assisted more than 90 motorists. Many were stuck in their cars in ditches.
Ice Makes for Hazardous Travel
Back in late December, Winter Storm John formed in the Big Bend region of Texas. It spread a wintry mess of snow and ice from Texas through the Midwest before heading off to New England.
The storm caused hundreds of automobile accidents and left motorists stranded. Especially from Missouri to Illinois.
In the central U.S., the storm was all about freezing rain. Ice accumulations made travel hazardous in a variety of states. Including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
A tragedy occurred near St. Louis. A 38-year-old driver got out of his crashed vehicle to warn other drivers. He was struck by another car and fell from an overpass.
Less than two weeks after John reached the Northeast, another winter storm rolled in.
Snow totals surpassed all of last year's winter season in some areas. They got 40 inches of snow in Binghamton, New York. And 22 inches in the state's capital, Albany.
Over the border in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, they received 18.8 inches. Wind gusts exceeded 55 miles per hour.
Among the hundreds of traffic accidents was a 66-vehicle pileup in Pennsylvania. And a 27-vehicle pileup in New York.
It Can Happen Anytime and Anywhere
Major vehicle pile ups resulting in stranded motorists are more likely during snowstorms.
But here's the bottom line. If you drive, it could happen to you. Even on the most beautiful of days.
And if it does, what will you do if you can't leave your vehicle for hours on end? That's how long it takes to clean up these major crashes.
Will you have the items you need in your vehicle when you need them most? Or will they be sitting at home where you can't reach them?
You Need an Emergency Vehicle Kit
In no particular order, here's a list of things you should always keep in your vehicle's emergency kit.
- Water. Leaving water bottles in your car overnight will likely cause them to freeze. But taking fresh water with you each time you drive somewhere will ensure you'll have it when you need it.
- Flashlight. In the winter, it's dark in the morning and again by late afternoon. You may have to assess a situation outside your car, so always have at least one of these handy.
- First-aid kit. If you're stranded in your car from an accident that caused minor injuries, you can treat them with a basic first-aid kit.
- Wool blanket. If you're stuck in your car and don't want to run out of gas, it could get cold. A blanket can help keep you warm.
- Folding shovel. It doesn't take up much room and it's inexpensive. But it could get you out of a snow bank and get you on your way again.
- Road flares. If your car is stuck by the side of a dark road, this is a great way to warn vehicles coming up from behind you.
- Jumper cables. During a storm is a bad time for a battery to fail. But with some help, your cables could get your car moving again.
No, I didn't forget back-up power. It's one of the most important items you can have in your vehicle. But I saved it for last. I highly recommend the Patriot Power Cell. This could be a lifesaver if your cellphone is dead and you have no other way to charge it.
Don't get stuck somewhere without the power you need to communicate and get rescued. Be prepared for any crisis with your own personal back-up power protection.