Driving in Extreme Weather

Driving in dicey weather conditions can be downright nerve-wracking. It can also be very dangerous. Being aware of how to modify your driving during rain, tornadoes, snow and fog can help you stay calm during your commute.

Rain and Thunderstorms 

  • Turn on your headlights, wipers and defroster to increase visibility. 
  • Drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you and reduce your speed. 
  • Allow for increased space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. 
  • If you hydroplane, hold the steering wheel straight and remove your foot from the gas.


If you are driving in a tornado, get out of your vehicle and find shelter. If there is not a building nearby, lie in a ditch and place your arms over your head.

Snow, Sleet and Freezing Rain 

  • Clean ice and snow off your windows, hood and trunk before departing. 
  • Drive with extreme caution and at reduced speeds. 
  • Do not brake quickly as you may spin out of control.


  • Slow down before you reach a patch of fog in front of you. 
  • Use only your low beams or fog lights and put on your defroster and wipers to increase visibility. 
  • If the fog is extremely thick, roll down all of your windows to hear other vehicles around you.

It is very important that you allow extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you when driving in snow because you will need three to 12 times the amount of stopping distance that you normally need without any precipitation.

FAQ’s About Driving in Extreme Weather

What are some tips for driving safely in extreme rain?

When driving in extreme rain, it’s important to slow down to avoid hydroplaning, keep your headlights on for visibility, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, and avoid sudden movements that could cause you to lose control. If visibility is too poor or you feel unsafe, find a safe place to pull over until the conditions improve.

How should I prepare my car for winter driving conditions?

Preparing your car for winter involves ensuring your tires have adequate tread or are replaced with winter-specific tires, checking that your battery is in good condition, ensuring your windshield wipers are effective, and verifying that your defroster and heater are working properly. Additionally, keep an emergency kit in your car that includes items like a blanket, ice scraper, and sand or cat litter for traction if you get stuck.

What steps can I take to drive safely in foggy conditions?

In foggy conditions, use your low-beam headlights or fog lights to improve visibility, reduce your speed, and increase your following distance. Pay close attention to road signs and markings as a guide, and avoid passing other vehicles unless absolutely necessary. If the fog becomes too dense, pull over and wait for it to lift.

What should I do if I encounter a tornado while driving?

If you see a tornado while driving, do not try to outrun it. Instead, seek sturdy shelter immediately. If no shelter is available, park your car out of traffic lanes, stay buckled in your seatbelt, keep your head below the windows, and cover yourself with a blanket or coat to protect against debris.

Are there any special considerations for driving in hurricane conditions?

It’s best to avoid driving in hurricane conditions altogether. If you must drive, be aware of the potential for flooding and downed power lines. Always obey evacuation orders and do not drive through flooded areas, as the water may be deeper than it appears and can sweep your vehicle away.

How can extreme heat affect my driving?

Extreme heat can lead to tire blowouts, overheating engines, and decreased battery life. Ensure your tires are properly inflated, check coolant levels, and consider a battery check before a long trip. Stay hydrated and take breaks if you’re feeling fatigued due to the heat. Keep a sunshade in your vehicle to protect the interior when parked, and never leave children or pets unattended in a hot car.

What should I do if I start to skid on ice while driving?

If you start to skid on ice, remain calm and avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can worsen the skid. Instead, gently steer in the direction you want to go and slowly lift your foot off the accelerator until you regain traction. If you have anti-lock brakes, you can apply steady pressure to the brake pedal.

How can I tell if a road is icy before I start driving?

Look for visual cues such as ice on your windshield or on the pavement, which can appear glossy or shiny. Be especially cautious on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas, as these spots freeze first and may be icy even if the rest of the road is clear. If temperatures are near or below freezing, assume that wet-looking roads may be icy.

What is black ice and how can I spot it while driving?

Black ice is a thin, transparent layer of ice on the road that is nearly invisible, making it one of the most treacherous road conditions. It often looks like a wet patch on the asphalt. Be particularly vigilant in the early morning or late at night when temperatures are lowest, and drive slowly if you suspect black ice may be present.

What emergency supplies should I keep in my car for extreme weather conditions?

For extreme weather conditions, your emergency kit should include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets or warm clothing, jumper cables, road flares or reflective triangles, a shovel, windshield washer fluid, and a fully charged mobile phone with a car charger. Tailor your kit to the specific weather you might encounter in your region.

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