10 April 2009

Spring Weather and Your Car

In addition to its obvious charms, spring also brings with it the possibility of violent weather for much of the US. It’s the time of the year when weather can vacillate between summer-like temperatures and late winter’s chill. When these two weather patterns meet—as they often do in the middle of the country— the results can be violent weather like tornados and hail-producing severe thunderstorms.

Since we can’t control the weather, the best offense is generally a good defense—avoid taking your car out on days when severe weather is a possibility. If it’s just a Sunday drive, that’s as simple as checking the forecast for the day. If you’re going on a tour or a long distance drive, it isn’t that simple. Getting a weather forecast for every area that you’ll be traveling through is difficult, especially given the isolated nature of spring storms. Technology can be the answer here.

Aside from an F5 tornado, hail is probably the most frightening weather-related thing a classic car owner can encounter on a spring drive. One gadget that should be indispensible to anyone taking their car on a long trip is a Garmin 7200 Street Pilot with the XM satellite weather option. XM satellite weather delivers aviation quality weather information along with Garmin’s navigation data. The graphic display tells you where the severe weather is what it consists of (lightening, high winds and the dreaded hail) and the navigation system can help you route around it. It’s especially useful in avoiding hail damage.

Of course, sometimes, the best of planning and technology can't save you from a sudden hail storm. If you get caught, if possible, try to seek some cover perhaps under the pump awnings at a gas station or truck stop. If your visibility is compromised by rain and hail, stopping, gritting your teeth and waiting for the storm to pass might be your only option. Hail damage can be repaired (in many cases without resorting to paint work). Your personal safety is always paramount.

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