Snoqualmie Falls during flood conditions. Source: Youtube
Washington might be known for its rain, but this past week has been breaking records with torrential downpours in the western portion of our state. Unseasonably warm temperatures, causing snow to melt in the mountains, combined with storms that dumped an unusual amount of rain on the region have caused severe flooding. High winds created a tornado near Battle Ground, Washington, an extreme rarity for the state. Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency last Wednesday in response to flooding and landslides caused by the storms.
How can you stay safe when there are dangerous road conditions?
- While most residents of Washington know how to drive in the rain, the hazardous conditions created by this severe weather are unusual for the state. When driving, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Flood waters may look slow-moving, but their currents can run quickly enough to sweep pedestrians and cars away. Never drive into flood water, even if it looks shallow. A mere 12 inches of flood water can carry away a small car.
- Don’t take risks to get around landslides. Follow directions and avoid steep, winding roads without guardrails if possible during hazardous conditions.
- Avoid standing water during a flood; downed or buried power lines may be hidden there and may still be emitting a charge.
- Pay attention to local weather warnings from the Washington State Department of Transportation. Pay special attention during severe winter weather to high wind, landslide, avalanche, and flood warnings. Try to plan a route that will take you away from the riskiest areas.
- Increase your following distance and decrease your speed on slick pavement. Make sure your vehicle’s brakes and tires are in good condition in case you need to stop unexpectedly.
Is bad weather a legal excuse for a car accident?
Even in severe weather conditions, drivers who cause accidents with reckless driving are liable for damages. Drivers are still expected to exercise reasonable care—and under dangerous conditions, that means they must be very careful indeed. As we head into colder and icier winter weather, check these safety tips for more information about how to drive safely in snowy conditions.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident during this severe weather, it may be time to speak with a personal injury attorney.