Tropical rains pose flooding threat to Virginia roads, AAA warns drivers to be alert

(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:15 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) - Several rounds of heavy rain have drenched Virginia over the past few days. With the soil saturated and more rain in the forecast from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred, AAA warns drivers to be on the lookout for flooding and ponding on roadways.

“Low lying areas where water can rise quickly are always a threat and should be avoided during and after storms,” said Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson. “But with the ground so heavily saturated from recent rainstorms, and run off quickly pooling, drivers could encounter flooded roadways in areas where they aren’t used to seeing problems.”

Drivers can check the latest on road conditions at 511virginia.org.  Most flood deaths happen in vehicles and AAA is reminding drivers to Turn Around, Don’t Drown(National Weather Service) when they come upon standing water on a roadway.

AAA offers 10 safety tips for wet weather driving:

  1. Ponding on roads - As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and potentially stall your engine. 12 inches of water can carry away most cars and 24 inches of rushing water can carry away trucks and SUVs. Drivers who come upon a flooded road should turn around and find an alternate route.
  2. Seek higher ground - If your vehicle stalls or is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately.
  3. Never drive through standing water - Standing water can be deceiving and drivers should avoid it. No matter how shallow it may appear, water may be concealing downed power lines, be deeper than it appears, or have significant force from flooding, etc.
  4. Slow down, brake early and drive with greater caution and alertness - Drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle when roads are wet so reduce speed and keep your eyes and mind on the road. Brake early, but not hard, to allow the time needed to slow the car down.
  5. Triple following distances:  Rain decreases visibility and increases needed stopping distances. Normal dry pavement following distances (2-3 seconds) should be increased to 8 seconds when driving on slippery surfaces.
  6. Use the central lanes. When driving during heavy rain, use the center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where the water collects at curbside.  Driving in the tracks of other vehicles in front of you can improve traction and also help avoid hydroplaning.
  7. Avoid Common High Water Areas: Stay away from bridges and roads that are known to flood. If the roadway has been flooded, take a detour – floodwaters can be deceptively strong. Nearly half of all people who die in flash floods are in cars and have underestimated the power of flood waters or have not acted fast enough to escape.
  8. Don’t be SUV Overconfident: Drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles must remember that they are not immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces. SUVs are just as likely to lose traction as any other vehicle. Even if brakes work under normal conditions that doesn’t mean they will react the same on slippery roads where tires roll with less traction. Also, turn off cruise control as it can cause hydroplaning.
  9. Use your defroster - Keep the air inside your car dry and prevent windows from fogging by using your defroster along with your air conditioner.
  10. Take the nearest exit - If conditions worsen to the point where there is any doubt about your safety, take the nearest exit. Don’t just stop on the shoulder or under a bridge. If your visibility is compromised, other drivers may be struggling too.

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