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Parking under an overpass in severe weather is 'spectacularly dangerous'

Thursday, June 16th 2022, 4:35 am - Driving is the No. 1 danger when it comes to storms, says Mark Robinson, The Weather Network Storm Hunter and meteorologist.


Getting caught in a storm while on any roadway can be quite scary, but if that happens, avoid stopping amid live traffic for any reason.

This includes taking shelter under an overpass, a dangerous act that was reported to have occurred recently as a destructive derecho swept through southern Ontario and Quebec.

The Weather Network Storm Hunter and meteorologist Mark Robinson explains why this move is "spectacularly dangerous."

As a veteran storm chaser who has driven through the core of a storm, even one that isn't possibly producing a tornado but still has "near blinding rain," Robinson has been forced to stand on his brakes to prevent his car from slamming into a vehicle in front of him under a bridge.

"Driving is always the number 1 danger when it comes to storms, and unfortunately, one of the big issues I've run into again and again is people hiding their cars beneath bridges," said Robinson. "It's hard for me to emphasize how spectacularly dangerous it is for other drivers when someone does that."

Calgary overpass In 2020, Calgary motorists take shelter under an overpass during a severe thunderstorm. (City of Calgary).

He noted this reactionary behaviour stems from a video shot in the early '90s by a film crew that took to hiding under a bridge from a passing tornado.

So, instead of seeking refuge under a bridge, the safest thing a driver can do is pull off to the side of the road, as far over as you can, ensuring that the highway will remain clear, Robinson added.

"Otherwise, proceed slowly until the weather is clear enough to continue," he said.

In 2020, Calgary Police Services condemned the act of stopping in the middle of a highway, even during a storm, amid a weather event.

It can be a serious traffic hazard for other drivers, a media spokesperson wrote in an email to CTV News in 2020.

If you feel nervous about driving through a storm, Calgary police recommend you exit the highway safely so as to not impede the flow of traffic. You are advised to park in a safe location, such as a side street or parking lot, if you choose to stop.

Thumbnail courtesy of the City of Calgary.

Follow Nathan Howes on Twitter.

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