Windy driving

windy highway in wintertime
slippery highway in wintertime

Wind is one driving condition we seldom think about, yet it can be extremely challenging, especially when it comes with other weather conditions. On it’s own, wind can also make driving very hazardous. In the mountains, winds can whip up at the drop of a hat, as it moves around hills, and races through valleys. A strong head wind will wreak havoc with both your fuel economy and your schedule.  It can also alter the road surface if the temperature is close to the freezing mark, by lowering the temperature of bridge surfaces, so they freeze over before the road does. A strong cross wind can also flip a truck, even if you’re fully loaded. High winds combined with other weather events, like heavy rain or snow can be a recipe for disaster. Snow cuts visibility considerably, and when it’s being blown around by a strong wind, it is impossible to see anything, so you’re best bet is to find a safe place to park, and wait it out. Better to miss an appointment, than end up in a ditch, or having an accident. I’m sure your company and the customers would rather have you arrive a day or 2 late, than have to recover the load from the ditch, or have it destroyed in an accident. 

High winds in the summer can be just as bad, especially on the prairies, or the desert areas in the US. Hot humid days are the breeding grounds for tornados, and as we all know, those are the second worst winds around. Fortunately, they are usually predicted well in advance, so avoiding them is pretty simple. Same with hurricanes. You simply do not drive anywhere near such areas when warnings and watches are issued by the weather services. 

So when you have to drive in a strong wind, keep in mind your vehicle’s profile. That 53 foot trailer presents a 503 square foot sail for the wind to play with.  I just experienced some serious wind delays myself. Due to high winds, reaching peak gusts of 120 km/h, between noon Wednesday and 18:00 Sunday, I only drove 515 km/h. The rest of the time was spent waiting for ferry service, which was cancelled because of the winds.  When we finally did sail Sunday, the winds were still strong enough to toss the ship around like a toy in a bath tub. While we were waiting to sail, one truck was almost blown onto another by the wind. 

So use caution when driving in the wind, especially if you’re empty, lightly loaded, or hauling something top heavy.