Mother Nature is somewhat predictable, as we have these things called “seasons,” after all. But the exact time, location and amounts of temperature change, precipitation, high winds and road closures is not.
For example, eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and large swaths of Montana all saw snow, up to four to five feet near Glacier Park… and that was in September! And let’s not forget winter will officially be here next month and with it is always the possibility of blizzards, making travel difficult to impossible.
And yet trucking companies and professional drivers are expected to complete their tasks on time and safely, amid this sea of unpredictability. How? Planning and emergency preparedness. Unpredictable weather calls for predictable responses and resources.
We’ve talked about the need for planning three times on these pages. Planning requires you to decide: what you want to do, how you want to do it, and when you will do it. All that should be written down on your calendar. If you have done that planning for the upcoming winter conditions, you and your team should double-check the alternate routes and the additional parking locations now.
Winter or summer, springtime floods or tropical storms in the fall, Mother Nature has predictably unpredictable conditions to throw at us. Plan in advance for alternate routes and parking locations if the regular road is closed and the usual truck parking is filled. Know in advance where road construction is planned. Always carry emergency gear appropriate to the season. Have a reliable response ready when faced with unreliable weather conditions.
Part of preparing that reliable response is having good resources to turn to for accurate information. Every truck driver and every motor carrier dispatcher should have a list of phone numbers and websites for up-to-date reports on local weather, road closures, road construction and emergency notifications, such as during floods and storms. There are, of course, excellent commercial websites, products and services available.
Here is a guide to begin building your own list of resources:
- Weather: The National Weather Service is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office. Weather radios are not expensive, and some can be powered with a variety of sources.
- Road closures: You can find out what road conditions are like in any state with Drive-Safely. Dial 511 from your cell phone for local road closures.
- Road construction: Check your state DOT website for construction related road closures and other delays.
- Emergency notifications: Go to Ready.gov for severe weather alerts. You can also get emergency and disaster alerts from the website, delivered to your mobile device.
Always pull off the road and park in a safe location before checking websites or placing a phone call. Predictable responses and resources will help you meet the unpredictability of Mother Nature.