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Old 07-23-2021, 11:59 AM   #1
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Wicked weather in Nevada

We were coming back from Idaho to California a couple of weeks ago. On I-80 between Winnemucca and Reno we had 2 really bad weather phenomenon.

The ambient temperature at about 4 PM was 104F outside, and there were some good crosswinds. About a mile ahead of us I noticed what I call a dirt devil, mini cyclone, on the other side of the highway. As we approached it came into our lane, and was big enough to cover both lanes. When we hit it, the front end was moved from the slow to fast lane, and the rear stayed in the slow lane. Was quite a ride. Luckily I didn't overreact, and managed to straighten it out quickly.

About 20 miles later, there was a white out sleet storm for about 500 yards. Everything else clear, except for this one area on the highway. To me going in, it looked just like a smoke from a roadside fire. But once in, complete whiteout, couldn't see 40 feet. And cars/semis in front and in back. Made it through that as well.

Couldn't wait to get to Reno to have a nice glass of wine to take the edge off my adrenaline rush.

Be careful out there for unexpected weather folks.
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Old 07-23-2021, 04:15 PM   #2
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This may be way late but the general rule on dust or smoke is to NOT drive into it if you get enough warning. The Oklahoma turnpike and areas where smoke is a frequent thing will often have warning signs to not drive into smoke.
The problem is that once in, you can't tell if you are on the pavement or not, so have to stop and the next fellow coming along will not see you if you are on or off the pavement!

Really scary to get caught with a wind shift and not be able to tell where you are as you can't see the ground!

Way of the future, I'm afraid.
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Old 07-23-2021, 04:24 PM   #3
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This may be way late but the general rule on dust or smoke is to NOT drive into it if you get enough warning. The Oklahoma turnpike and areas where smoke is a frequent thing will often have warning signs to not drive into smoke.
The problem is that once in, you can't tell if you are on the pavement or not, so have to stop and the next fellow coming along will not see you if you are on or off the pavement!

Really scary to get caught with a wind shift and not be able to tell where you are as you can't see the ground!

Way of the future, I'm afraid.
The way it looked was that it was smoke from a local hill, coming down to the highway. And I've driven through many smoke incidents having lived in Northern CA. And based on the size, it looked very small, but it turned out to be freak weather instead. Cars and trucks in front of us were just heading in as well. When I got in, I turned on the flashers and watched in front, and the rear camera. Very lucky because a couple of semis entered within 30 seconds of us, and we had to slow down for the traffic ahead. Could see their tail lights maybe 100 feet ahead dimly.

But it was a wall of water/sleet. In a day that was perfectly clear, and over 100 degrees out.
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:06 PM   #4
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That is crazy! Glad you made it through ok. Good driving!
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Old 07-23-2021, 11:32 PM   #5
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Seems to me if you can see an obstruction-to-vision event before entering it, the wisest course of action is to not enter it. Pull well off the road if possible while others can still see you and wait until the weather clears or moves on.

That would prevent a potential direct adverse effect on your rig, and/or the indirect threat of collision from other drivers who have unwisely entered an event they can't see through.
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Old 07-27-2021, 12:57 PM   #6
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Friends were driving from Texas and into Oklahoma when they encountered a situation with so much dirt in the air that visibility was less than 100 feet. Unfortunately the driver failed to slow down and crashed into the rear of a massive earthmover that was creating the dust storm behind as it traveled down the road. She was in the hospital with a destroyed spleen and her mother in the back seat had both hips broken. The mother never walked again.

I decided long ago when I would encounter dense ground fog to get 150 feet behind a tractor trailer rig and let it block the way. The driver had better visibility with the added height of the cab which also helped. Last thing I wanted was to drive at 45 mph into someone doing 20 mph in the fog or get rear ended by someone driving at 70 mph and ignoring the situation.

Pulling over to me means taking an off ramp and getting completely off the highway. Too many people pull over to the shoulder and then someone drives into them at high speed.
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Old 07-27-2021, 03:34 PM   #7
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Friends were driving from Texas and into Oklahoma when they encountered a situation with so much dirt in the air that visibility was less than 100 feet. Unfortunately the driver failed to slow down and crashed into the rear of a massive earthmover that was creating the dust storm behind as it traveled down the road. She was in the hospital with a destroyed spleen and her mother in the back seat had both hips broken. The mother never walked again.

I decided long ago when I would encounter dense ground fog to get 150 feet behind a tractor trailer rig and let it block the way. The driver had better visibility with the added height of the cab which also helped. Last thing I wanted was to drive at 45 mph into someone doing 20 mph in the fog or get rear ended by someone driving at 70 mph and ignoring the situation.

Pulling over to me means taking an off ramp and getting completely off the highway. Too many people pull over to the shoulder and then someone drives into them at high speed.
From videos and other information it seems truckers are notorious for overdriving existing visibility. I don't believe I would trust one to lead me through a low visibility situation. I'm convinced that we can and should be able to recognize that we're about to drive into a compromising situation and be ready to take action to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible. I, for one, would gladly take that off ramp or at least pull as far off the roadway as possible. Its bad enough to watch those mass collision videos, I don't want to ever be in the middle of one!
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Old 07-27-2021, 04:38 PM   #8
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Pulling off the road is not enough. Friend is a retired Calfornia Highway Patrol officer and he and a number of his former coworkers were in their patrol cars parked to the side of the road and got hit from behind.

When people are not paying attention and all of a sudden see tail lights off to the side they can assume that they are no longer on the highway and head for the tail lights.It is why one will often see a patrol car with one of the officers high up the embankment and acting as an observer to warn the other officer of car approaching with a driver that is not paying attention or is under the influence of something or busy texting.

After listening to his stories I will not even pull over with a flat tire but instead I will drive to the nearest off ramp and get off the highway entirely. I may destroy a rim but no the vehicle or my life.
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Old 08-01-2021, 04:45 PM   #9
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Always a good idea NOT to drive into smoke or dust if you can avoid it. We just had a multiple-vehicle accident here in Utah on I-15 where a dust storm blew across the freeway, causing zero visibility. Multiple vehicles involved, including 2 semis. Eight fatalities.

I realize you don't always have the luxury of advanced warning allowing you to stop before entering the storm, but do so if possible. The risk here is that you may be outside the storm when you pull off, but it may then envelope you and you could get rear-ended by someone pulling off the road with zero visibility at 70 mph.
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