Clouds, rain and awful weekend driving

Published 9:57 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

My buddy and I drove from Virginia Beach to a friend’s place in Loudoun County on Saturday. We left at 10 a.m. for a four-hour drive that should have gotten us there right when the burgers and hotdogs started cooking on the grill. Instead we ended up getting there at 6:30 p.m., soaked down to our socks from rain that never seemed to stop.

My windshield was a wet blur between wiper blade swipes. My GPS convinced me to take a detour away from the I-64 and I-95 traffic, through small towns. At one point we were in a line of cars stopped by a police officer for a good 10 minutes. The delay was road flooding from the adjacent creek, about halfway up my tires.

In the past year I’ve driven through some garbage weather — including snowfall this past winter that kept me in Suffolk late one night from falling trees — but this was my worst drive in months. Flood watches and advisories are still being issued in Hampton Roads and according to the National Weather Service, more precipitation is in store for Suffolk this weekend.

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As of Wednesday, the forecast has a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. this Friday afternoon and into the night. The odds of rain only go up on Saturday and Sunday. It should be less than a tenth of an inch for the most part, but thunderstorms will likely ratchet up those numbers.

It’s incredibly dangerous to be cavalier with wet roads and not plan ahead for weather like I did, which is why AAA Tidewater has tips for commuters.

As reported by WTKR, common sense is the first step when driving in rainstorms, meaning that passengers need to keep their seatbelts on and driving distractions to an absolute minimum. Headlights should be kept on at all times in heavy downpours with both front and rear window wipers going at full speed, if possible.

Sudden braking and cruise control are not advised. Try to stay five seconds behind the car in front in case you do have to slow or stop, and if the road ahead of you is covered with deep water, ““turn around — don’t drown,” AAA Tidewater said in the WTKR report.

Best of luck to all the other drivers bound for long distances this weekend. Here’s hoping your plans won’t get rained out.