Bad weather driving, walking

Driving down East Lake Avenue in Watsonville

Driving down East Lake Avenue in Watsonville

Pedestrians walking down Union Street in the rain

Pedestrians walking down Union Street in the rain

Tuesday’s storm was brutal for anyone who ventured outside. Did you go out in the wind and rain? How did you survive? I braved Mother Nature. I drove down to Watsonville, where the rain had been falling non-stop since around midnight, according to workers at Taylor Brothers hot dog stand on Union and East Beach streets. I was downtown from about 9:45 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. While not blocked by debris, the gutters and storm drains could not handle all the water that was falling from the sky. Rain-caused rivers poured down the drains, but there was so much water. Motorists drove down the center of the road on some streets, namely East Beach Street and East Lake Avenue, and some of their side streets. Pedestrians, possibly Cabrillo College students, walked in the road if they weren’t wearing galoshes that would allow them to wade in the ankle -- and sometimes calf -- deep water as they ventured from one sidewalk to the next. At each curb, the pedestrian walkways were surrounded by raging rivers at least three feet wide. While most people seemed to be taking the soggy weather in stride, some were doing dangerous things that can cause crashes or other damage. Some motorists plowed through the ponding waters, making waves that engulfed the passenger side of their vehicle. Other motorists drove without their headlights on. These are dangerous ways to drive. When you drive through a puddle, it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Also, there may be some kind of object at the bottom of the rainwater pond that could damage your vehicle, such as pop a tire, which also could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. All that water can also impact your braking ability, possibly making them fail when you need them most. As for the drivers who were traveling without their headlights on, they were breaking the law. According to the California Vehicle Code section 24400, motorists must turn on their headlights whenever they use their windshield wipers, as well as when it’s dark or there is fog, mist, snow or atmospheric moisture. This is to help you see and been seen by others on the road. At times, the rain fell so hard that I could barely see about 50-feet around me. Just about everything on the road was hidden by or blended into the sheets of rain falling to the ground and the plumes of mist flying up from the spinning tires up ahead. Everything was hidden except a sea of white headlights and red taillights dancing in the distance. Read more about wet weather driving at www.dmv.ca.gov. Meanwhile, if you did venture out into the rain, did you note how your vehicle performed? Let Tuesday’s weather event put you on notice that a wet winter is on its way and there’s no time like the present to winterize your car. When I think of winterizing, I think tune up, tires and windshield wipers. Talk to your mechanic about ways to get your car ready for the cold, wet weather.
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