Dealing with Thunderstorms When You Travel

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Thunderstorms, caused when warm, moist air rises faster and higher than usual in the atmosphere, can affect your travel or vacation plans. Storms might cause planes to divert, throw a wrench in your road trip plans, or threaten a camping expedition. If you’re traveling to or through an area where thunderstorms regularly occur, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

If you’re flying and there’s a chance of thunderstorms, be ready for delays. Thunderstorms around airports can bottle up airplane traffic while ground crews wait for it to be safe to work on the tarmac again. The storms can also force pilots to make detours if they form anywhere along the flight path. While airlines and regulators do their best to predict and react to thunderstorms, their nature means that they form quickly and often behave unpredictably. Flying around thunderstorms is safe, as planes are equipped with weather radar to detect them while they still have time to avoid them, and lightning strikes do not pose a huge risk to planes. You may, however, experience turbulence as your aircraft skirts the storms.

On the road, your best source for thunderstorm news is your radio. If a severe thunderstorm is coming through, it’s often best to get off the road and wait it out. If you do need to continue driving, turn on your headlights and proceed slowly, allowing extra space to brake between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Keep away from downed power lines and flooded roadways, and ensure your vehicle is ready for a storm before you leave by inspecting its tires and windshield wipers.

Getting caught in a thunderstorm while camping can be extremely unpleasant. Thunderstorms can produce damaging winds and hail, as well as lightning and flash flooding. Keep an eye on local forecasts so you have some warning before a storm hits, and make sure you select a campsite that’s safe in case an unexpected storm rolls in. Avoid placing anything valuable under tree limbs that might fall, make sure you have an emergency kit ready and accessible, and take cover before the storm arrives.

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