Fall Weather Hazards
Pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, and football are all people seem to talk about these days. Yes, fall is here! While it is a beautiful and usually mild time of year, it can also bring unusual weather. Since fall is a transitional season, weather hazards seen during both warm and cold months, including hurricanes, wildfires, intense winds, flooding, droughts, fog/reduced visibility, hail, early season snow and more, can occur. One day the temperature might be in the 60s, while the next day it is in the 80s, and then it shoots right back down to the 60s.
Floodwaters – In short, never drive through floodwaters! Fall can often times bring with it rainy weather, and heavy rains can be a common occurrence since hurricane season continues until November. If you encounter fast moving water or a flooded roadway as you are driving or walking, it’s best to turn around and find another route. Abide by the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” adage. You do not know the conditions under the water. All it takes is six inches of moving water to make you fall. Also, keep children and pets from playing in floodwater.
Reduced Visibility – With the days getting shorter, visibility when driving in the fall can be a challenge. Many people walk along the side of the road at dusk with dogs, on horses or riding bicycles, and they can be difficult to see. School is also back in session, so kids might be getting off of a school bus or crossing the street. Mornings tend to be foggy because the ground is still warm, but the air is cool. Additionally, fall is a time when wildlife is more active and on the move. Slow down when driving, especially on curvy or narrow roads where visibility around corners is difficult, pay attention to postings for animal crossings, and obey school zone speed limits.
Weather Changes Quickly – Fall foliage hikes are fabulous, but always check the weather before heading to an outdoor activity. If you take a hike, be prepared for weather changes as you increase elevation. It may be sunny at the base of the mountain, but it could be cold and rainy or even snowy at the summit. Dress in layers, and bring a wind breaker or waterproof shell, plenty of water, and never hike alone.
Water Safety – Many people also like to take fall boat rides to see peak foliage or get out on a kayak a few more times before the weather gets too cold. Even if things seem calm on the water, always wear a life jacket. File a float plan and make sure you have the required safety equipment. Being submerged in water of any temperature for any length of time can cause hypothermia and even the strongest swimmer can be weakened. But you don’t have to be submerged in water to experience signs of hypothermia. Small open boats combined with cold, wet weather can lead to possible hypothermia.
Using the Coast Guard mobile app for boating safety is a great way to quickly and easily check marine weather from your phone. With it, you can check the weather at nearby NOAA buoys, which can give you wind speed and directions along with wave height. If you’re a boater, make sure you check the weather each and every time you head out and continue to monitor it throughout your time on the water.
NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, water and climate data and forecasts and warnings to protect life and property. Check out Weather-Ready Nation to learn more about how to ensure you are safe this fall!
- NOAA’s National Weather Service leads Seasonal Safety Campaigns to prepare the public for seasonal weather hazards.
- NOAA warns the public about severe weather through Wireless Emergency Alerts and NOAA Weather Radio.
- NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center issues Fire Weather Outlooks to help local officials prepare for potential wildfires.
- NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center provides space weather forecasts, watches, warnings and alerts.
- NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center provides snow and ice forecasts from September 15 – May 15.
- NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issues a Winter Outlook (coming in October) to help the nation prepare for the upcoming season. It also monitors drought and El Niño conditions.