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Stop & Go in Severe Weather

I-65, Somewhere south of Montgomery, AL
I enjoy driving. Like most people, I'm also not really a big fan of traffic. Especially if nasty weather is involved. It seems like you get three kinds of people on the road at these times:
  1. The driver who just gives up & decides to wait it out by stopping on the shoulder of the road. If you're lucky, they have pulled completely off the road and haven't simply stopped right in the middle of it.
  2. The driver who believes that the massive vehicle they're driving can weather any storm and doesn't slow down. It's always satisfying to see them in a ditch a little bit later, so long as no one is injured.
  3. The driver who slows down to a crawl but keeps going.
I tend to fall into the third category, for reasons like the one I experienced today. Imagine if you will, traffic is humming along at, I don't know, say 75 mph. Yeah, that's over the speed limit, but you learn quickly that on open highways in the South, your speed is largely dictated to you by how fast the semi-truck is going behind you.

Unless something happens in the road up ahead. The storm clouds that were rolling in parallel to the highway, but they came in so fast and thick that the sky was bright blue on the left and a deep gun-metal grey on the right. And then the road turned into the storm. In the next minute, all manner of hazard lights started flashing on the cars ahead as errant leaves and dismembered tree limbs went whipping around us. The lightning strikes were the only thing louder than the rain, and the flashes approached us in such quick succession that it felt like Zeus was fine-tuning his celestial artillery on our position.

And that's when people started pulling over. I can understand them being concerned about their cars being buffeted by the strong winds from the passing front, but that's why the rest of us slowed down to a crawl. Why would you want to 'sit it out' in the middle of a wooded area with no protection if you've already seen things flying around that can do damage? The clouds extended as far as the minimum visibility would allow me to see, but I figured that if I just kept driving, I'd get through it sooner than pulling off the road.

And sure enough, maybe 15 minutes later, I was back under the blue skies and my rear view mirror was completely dark. When I saw the local weather report on the news, it looked like the folks who had stopped were probably there for at least an hour or more. I don't know, to me, it just doesn't seem like an option to stop when things get bad if there's any chance that things will get better.

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