AMARILLO — Strong winds on Tuesday followed by potential rain and/or snow Wednesday and Thursday for parts of the Texas panhandle are expected to impact driving conditions, particularly during the Thursday, Feb. 16 morning commute. High winds are not unusual for our area, but drivers should remain alert as the National Weather Service (NWS) in Amarillo says “rogue wind gusts greater than 60 mph in the High Wind Watch area” are possible.
With the potential for snow, crews with the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Amarillo District will pretreat I-27, I-40, State Loop (SL) 335 and all other primary state and federal corridors, along with bridges and overpasses, across the top 17 counties of the Texas panhandle Tuesday morning. Brine operations will be complete by the end of the work day Tuesday. In addition to leaving at least 200 feet between your vehicle and TxDOT’s brining operations vehicles, drivers should keep the following tips in mind if they must drive in high wind conditions:
Be weather aware and know before you go. Monitor NWS advisories in your area. Visit www.DriveTexas.org to view traffic cameras and get the most up-to-date road conditions.
Plan ahead. Leave extra time, as your drive may take longer due to the need to drive more slowly in high winds.
Always wear a seatbelt – every rider, every time and eliminate distractions.
Have your radio already tuned to a station that provides weather updates. Listen for changes in weather conditions that could create more dangerous driving.
Keep your hands firmly on the wheel and drive to conditions.
Turn on headlights, if needed, to account for possibility of low visibility created by blowing dust, sand, snow or rain.
Be aware of and maintain safe distances from other vehicles near you, particularly RVs, campers, trucks, buses, or trailers being towed. These vehicles could swing out and hit your car in sudden wind gusts.
Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as trucks, vans, SUVs, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high winds.
Truckers carrying empty trailers or light loads are especially vulnerable. Make certain open or deck-loaded cargo is secured properly. Be extra cautious in open areas where wind gusts could push a truck out of its lane.
Watch for objects in the road. Loose objects and tree branches may be blown around.
If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, pull over into a safe parking area – the shoulder of a busy roadway is not safe.
When arriving at your destination, avoid parking near trees, downed power lines and buildings.
In the event of downed power lines:
Never drive over downed power lines. Even if they have been knocked over by the wind, high-voltage wires may still be alive and very dangerous.
Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches.
Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police.