This month's question came from a relatively new rider named
Marcia from WV . She has asked,
" What are the best actions to take
when you get caught in a bad thunderstorm with lightening and hail?"
From Laura J: "When
it first starts raining on a dry road, oil tends to surface and make
the road slippery. I recall the MSF recommending that riders pull over,
perhaps under an overpass or a diner, for ten minutes or so to allow
the oil to wash away. I'm not sure I've ever actually done that, though
I have pulled under an overpass when the rain came down so hard I could
barely see the road.
I recall coming back from the Women
In Motorcycling conference in Ohio that it was pouring and we were getting
pelted with hail. A driver coming the other way warned us there was
a TORNADO up ahead. Ha, I never thought of that even though the sky
was a weird orange color. We waited a bit in a gas station then headed
to a roadside motel for the night to wait it out. The tornado missed
us, but if we had stayed on the road we may have run right into it."
I agree with everything Laura said. Also, one of the biggest
problems most people have is difficulty in seeing and being seen in
heavy rain. Many goggles and visors will steam up and windshields, while
great for deflecting all sorts of debris, suck when it comes to visibility
in the rain. Personally, I hate looking through a windshield rain or
If you can't see, you can't avoid the car driver who is also
having trouble seeing you. I was taught (oh those many years ago) to
always ride as though I am invisible. If I'm invisible, I damn well
better be able to see everything else on the road. So, folks, if can't
see when riding during a downpour, please do like Laura advised, pull
over somewhere. You might be late getting somewhere, but at least you'll
get there in one piece.
Several of us rode took a little 300 mile ride home in 2004
in a Nor 'easter. That's new jerseyan for monsoon. Click
Here to read that story. I have penoptix goggles that I love. They
just don't fog up. They are also great sun glasses and a night vision
enhancer. They are a bit pricey, but worth every penny.
Lightening and hail are an entirely different matter. For lightening,
I count the seconds between the flash and the thunder. If it's close
I look for somewhere to get off the road and into shelter such as an
underpass on the open highway. The probability of getting hit by lightening
is infinitesimal but why take the risk?
At the first sign of hail, find shelter..anything available...underpass,
gas station canopy, large bushy tree, whatever. If you think rain stings
when riding, get caught in hail. The little ice balls sting like crazy
and the bigger ones really hurt. Not to mention the potential damage
to your bike. Just find the nearest shelter and wait the storm out like
Laura did coming back from Ohio.
Most thunderstorms have accompanying high winds. High winds
usually have to be really severe to require pulling over, but if you
are having difficulty controlling the bike or staying in your lane,
pull over and wait it out. And, as Laura mentioned, don't forget the
most dangerous time to be riding in the rain is during the first fifteen
minutes after it starts. The rain causes the oil on the road to literally
float and wash off the road. The roadway is extremely slippery during
that time. Please, always exercise additional caution on newly wet roads.
Also, I recommend you avoid going through roadway puddles because
of the possibility of glass, nails or other sharpe objects lying under
the water. Flat tires are never fun.
Bottom Line: Know your limitations. When the rain, hail, lightening
or high winds becomes dangerous, pull off the road and wait for the
storm to pass. After all, most thunderstorms only last about 30 or 40