Photo from windytv.com
On a run last week back home from Las Vegas, I had an uneasy feeling it was going to be a bumpy ride back to the homestead. The wind was gusting hard enough in downtown Las Vegas hard enough to blow over one of those double-decker busses that ferry people around town. Knowing I had a 3.5-hour trek back home in good conditions, I began to head southbound down I-15 with a good amount of weight on the trailer, not quite knowing what to expect.
As I headed through that barren stretch between the city that never sleeps and the California/Nevada state line, the wind was howling something fierce! Even with 35,000 pounds of solid baled cardboard in the box, it was blowing me around on the road pretty good. Being an avid user of Google Maps to predict traffic along my route, I noticed a solid stream of red on the highway in front of me, indicating a traffic backup and delay of an extra 1.5 hours to my route. Not really having any other way around this stretch of highway, as it is the only main artery in and out of Las Vegas to California, I decided to continue on in the 3mph crawl that ensued.
As the wind rocked my truck and trailer back and forth while creeping through the backup, I began to wonder what happened to cause this delay. It is often seen that a drunk driver or someone falling asleep at the wheel has rolled over and caused a fatally wreck in cases like this on this stretch of road. Google Maps was right though and after an hour and a half we approached the root cause of the backup. It was a back-to-back series of trucks turned over, with a dry van and then about a quarter mile past that a reefer, both empty.
Luckily I was loaded and use technology to help me in cases like this. I was able to make it against the crosswind/headwind mix of wind to the little town in the desert of Baker, CA. It was there I decided to pull over and take a look at the technology I tend to rely so heavily on to make educated decisions throughout my trucking career. I was able to pull up a website I like to use called Windytv (windytv.com). This mobile friendly website not only lets you see current surface wind conditions anywhere, but also lets you scroll the bar on the bottom of the screen to forecast future conditions.
Looking at the website while parked in Baker, CA allowed me to see that the last stretch between Barstow, CA and home would have given me direct crosswinds of 35-40mph, with gusts of up to 60mph. It was then that I decided it was not worth it to take the chance and fight the wind I could not visibly see. I decided with the help of this website to park and shut down for the night, knowing with the site forecaster that all wind would subside around 2am, when I could fire back up and still make my delivery in the morning to Los Angeles on time. This is a digital tool that I recommend everyone keep in their toolbox to help fight the dangers posed by wind to high profile vehicles!