In Ontario Canada winter driving is probably the time of year when driving conditions can change on a dime. That being said, in many other parts of North America you can find weather conditions that are just as terrifying, just as variable, and just as problematic than other times of the year for weather. No matter which type of weather affects the area of North America that you travel in it is important to know what type of weather can happen in the area and keeping your eye on your options can be the key to making it through your trip in a safe and timely fashion. Experienced professional drivers know that keeping your options open are the key to a successful trip, in fact for many watching and learning about weather patterns can make you money.
My wife and I were on our way back from Florida one year, we had gone on vacation over the Christmas period and were now on our return trip back home. Our normal route would have brought us up the East Coast from Atlanta arriving along the shores of Erie Pennsylvania, through Buffalo and home to Toronto. Our other option was to stick to I-75 travelling up through Detroit, along the 401through Ontario for 4 hours to home. Both routes are common routes for people travelling from the Sunshine State. As we travelled back home I was keeping a keen eye on the weather patterns. That winter had been riddled with severe winter storms as seems common around the Holidays and even our time in Florida had been much colder than expected. Now many people start looking at weather patterns when it arrives close to the area they will be driving through, however I had started watching the weather that was coming across from the West Coast from Southern California, Texas and other locations. Once a weather system got east of Colorado it would warrant my attention and my goal was that it would fizzle out way before it would reach the Midwest or East Coast. We began our journey on the route originally intended and thought we would miss any patterns long before they impacted our route. That wouldn’t be the case however and a system travelling east looked like it would make the last leg of our trip something to be reckoned with. As we were watching the weather system I was thinking about our route, so when suggested to my wife that we stay in West Virginia overnight instead of Ohio the suggestion wasn’t met with high excitement. I had to back up my suggestion with some logic. This storm was going to be a bad one and when I estimated where we would be at the time it hit the road we would have been on we had a good chance of being caught in the worst part. By stopping at a point in our trip where we could make a decision and possibly come up behind the storm made much more sense. Overnight the storm continued on its track and because we made some decisions early we were able to travel to the west side of Lake Erie and had good weather almost all the way home. The other way would have had us on the east side of the Lake where the weather would have been the worst.
Weather patterns travel in regular patterns and watching them travel and estimating your travel route for problems may be just the thing that makes your trip a memorable occasion. Always keep your options open when travelling as Mother Nature has a way of wanting to be everyone’s travel partner.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a transportation consultant with over 30 years of experience and author of the books Running by the Mile, and Driven to Drive. More information can be found on his website at www.outridgeenterprises.ca