Climate plays a large part in determining how safe it is to drive in the Midwest, as it does in many parts of the country. Conditions can turn from mild to ferocious when a sudden snow storm or a tornado sweeps across your path on a long drive.
It pays to be prepared for the worst wherever you are. Understand your limitations; make sure you set out on a long run knowing in advance what the weather has in store for you and pack an emergency kit with safety gear in it.
Drive with road and weather conditions in mind and more often than not you will have an enjoyable and safe journey.
The Midwest Climate for Motorists
The Midwest, like the North East, is a land of extremes. Summer brings long, warm days, although generally the region is drier than the Atlantic coast. Spring and fall are variable, with sudden changes in the weather from mild to cold.
Even in late spring, late snow storms can arrive without much warning and play havoc on the roads.
Heavy spring rain can make driving treacherous. Late summer and fall can experience tornados, although these are neither as numerous nor as severe as further south.
Winter is normally severe with frequent snow bound landscapes.
The highways can be closed after particularly ferocious fronts sweep across the land and vehicles must carry chains and be prepared to be stuck for hours if caught in bad winter weather.
Your Midwest Auto Emergency Kit
It’s wise packing an auto emergency kit somewhere in your trunk if setting out on Midwest roads. The kit is especially important in winter when conditions can be severe.
If you are setting out on a long journey in the winter months, it pays to check the weather forecast first. You may wish you had if you don’t do either!
Every motorist should have the following:
- spare tire and jack for changing it; tire pressure valve and foot pump; can of emergency sealant (usually only seals once)
- jumper cables;
- basic tool kit with wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers;
- spare 2 gallon gas canister;
- spare oil, transmission fluid if automatic and brake fluid;
- cell phone charged before you set out and 12V auto charger;
- set of 3 reflective triangles to place in front and rear of your car to alert other motorists;
Seasonal Emergency Gear
In a Midwest summer, also pack the following:
- drinking water, enough for 8 hours;
- rain ponchos
If traveling in winter, your kit should also contain:
- snow shovel;
- bag of cat litter which can be used to place under tires for better grip;
- snow chains for all tires;
- windscreen ice scraper;
- cable and winch for pulling car out of a snow bank or drift;
- winter clothing and footwear;
- adequate blankets or sleeping bags to keep you warm if the gas tank runs dry or you can’t start your engine to run your heater.;
- Non-perishable high calorie food, such as granola bars.
Don’t Be Complacent When Driving in the Midwest
It’s easy to be complacent when driving, but accidents and breakdowns can happen, even the most confident driver. Many Midwest highways are in remote country, miles from services.
You may not have cell phone coverage, so don’t count on ringing up for a tow truck. You could be stranded by the side of the road for hours, even days in the worst case scenario on a snow bound rural back road. It pays to be prepared.