Severe weather poses risks to citizens

6/13/2013, 4:29 p.m.

— "Derecho.” Even the merest mention of the word in local weather forecast is enough to evoke fears of the loss of lives, casualties, toppled trees, fallen power lines, widespread power outages, severe property damage, closed bridge spans, and delayed and canceled flights.

Occupants of cars and trucks are vulnerable to being hit by falling trees and utility poles, according to advise the National Weather Service and AAA Mid-Atlantic.

This afternoon, Virginia motorists faced hazardous driving conditions due to tornadic thunderstorms and flash flooding. AAA Mid-Atlantic is advising motorists to exercise extra precaution if they must take to the roads.

Drivers and occupants of high-profile vehicles, including semi-trailer trucks, buses and sport utility vehicles, face the danger of being blown over. Last June’s derecho, which packed wind gusts of up to 80 mph, and cut a path of destruction across the East Coast, tossed drivers to and fro on bridges in northern Virginia and Maryland, overturning a tractor-trailer rig in the area.

“It’s simple. If you don’t have to drive during the powerful windstorm – don’t,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “It is wiser to shelter in place until the storm passes over than to venture out. If you must drive, take caution as conditions can become treacherous quickly. If conditions worsen to the point where there is any doubt about your safety, take the nearest exit. Don’t stop on the shoulder or under a bridge.”