Road Closures

rdale

EF5
New Rule:

When there is a PDS box out, STOP ALL ROAD CONSTRUCTION FLAG-MAN ROAD CLOSURES [...] When a PDS box is issued anything that is going to cause traffic jams should be disabled until the threat is gone!

That really makes no sense... If you look at the area covered by a PDS watch, then connect that to the area affected by tornadoes (if any) within that watch, you are closing a LARGE AREA of construction projects! AR/MS was under 7 hours of PDS TOR on Friday, and most locations didn't even get a cloud (and nobody got a tornado.)

Warnings are another story. But during a watch just doesn't seem to fit the "good idea" header. That's as bad as the schools that shut down for a basic tor-box...
 
I disagree....

For one it's not like we get THAT many PDS boxes in a given year and when there is one issued then it should be treated just as it sounds. A "Particularly Dangerous Situation". Not only is the Tornado the threat you have the lightning danger, Flooding, Hail, etc... The average citizen would not want to be in a traffic jam when hail is pounding their car to death or when a river of water is flowing across the street. To me a PDS box means there is a high chance of many different types of dangerous situations happening and it’s time to react now. My recommendation was more aimed towards the massive traffic jams that can occur in the Metro areas. I have been in traffic jams in Dallas caused from road construction for hours at a time and there would be no chance to get out of the way if a tornado was coming.

If this same "Traffic Strategy" is only applied when a "Tornado Warning" is issued it will not work. Sometimes warnings go out only seconds from the tornado impacting a town and once the traffic jam is happening it’s not like it will instantly go away. It will take awhile for the word to get passed down to the workers and some time for the traffic to clear. Also, allot of tornadoes happen before the warning even comes out. But, if there was a PDS box issued in the morning then the ball is already in motion and hopefully the roadways will be free of traffic jams from construction. This just seems logical to me. I feel if the effort is made to issue a PDS box than the effort should be applied to be ready for worst. Just my opinion…
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I agree that this is a potential liability. At the very least the department of highways should be closely monitoring the radar and ideally be in communication with the NWS, being aware at all times of storms in relation to all crews working. They could then see when a dangerous storm is approaching a work zone, and have time to take action before warnings are issued. In a situation like yesterday, storms were tornado warned continuously and people in the path had a long time to see it coming.

We saw this very thing in Hill City, Kansas in 2005. The crews had a long one-laner with a excruciating wait, and were oblivious to the wedge and baseball-sized hail several miles away, heading right toward them and us.
 
We saw this very thing in Hill City, Kansas in 2005. The crews had a long one-laner with a excruciating wait, and were oblivious to the wedge and baseball-sized hail several miles away, heading right toward them and us.

I personally don't see why this instance is brought up over and over. If one lane of a highway is closed, it is closed for a reason and you can't expect a construction crew to make it driveable within a short amount of time. You have to remember that the people (general public) in the other lane going away from the storm were in a lot more danger than a chaser who is knowingly driving towards the storm.

I was stuck in the construction that day and it was frustrating but it didn't make me mad that I had to wait. If anything, I feel that the eastbound traffic should have had more time to make it through the construction zone. Maybe the situation wasn't handled perfectly by the road crew but chasers would have been a lot more mad if the road was closed.
 
In the Hill City situation, we were eastbound in a long line of cars, heading away from the storm toward Stockton. In that situation, the crews should have kept the eastbound traffic moving to get out of the storm's path, and had westbound cars turn around at the other end to keep them from driving into the storm. The Hill City scenario was a safety issue rather than a storm intercept one.
 
Dan, I agree that eastbound traffic should have had more time to make it through the construction. What I was referring to were the numerous chasers that we saw going westbound earlier that were not happy to be stopped.
 
I personally don't see why this instance is brought up over and over. If one lane of a highway is closed, it is closed for a reason and you can't expect a construction crew to make it driveable within a short amount of time. You have to remember that the people (general public) in the other lane going away from the storm were in a lot more danger than a chaser who is knowingly driving towards the storm.

Ya, the reason is was closed was to paint the shoulder reflective strip. I think this could have waited another day until the PDS box was gone. The situation I was in happened on a North-South road and it doesn't matter which lane you are stuck in. If a tornado is moving at 45mph towards you you will be killed in either lane if it hits you. The reason the instance continually is brought up probably is because this is a major accident waiting to happen and allot of people could be killed. Unfortunatly it is going to take this tragedy to happen first before anyone will do anything about it. I'm sorry but when the forecasters fell that they need to issue a "PDS" box the morning of the event then there needs to be a chain of events that happen to prepare. What's the point of even issuing this warning if everyone goes on with the day as if it was a normal day ?
 
"While severe weather may not be imminent, persons in the enclosed watch area should be prepared for rapidly changing conditions"

(or something close to that)

This tragedy has already happened, on March 12th. Traffic was down to 5 mph on I-70 Westbound as several tornado-warned cells were approaching this area. (Because of where an earlier tornado was on the ground and had caused damage, I believe) I kept saying to myself, "someone is going to pay big time for this." Near "Sweet Springs, MO" the tornado sort of "skipped" over I-70 flipping semis over onto cars, and nearly turned out to be a huge disaster. In fact, two of the cars were underneath the overpass, smashed by the semis, and it appeared that the driver's were killed. BUT, they had gotten OUT of their cars, and went up into the overpass (big, big, no no) which in turn, had saved their lives. Go figure.
 
Mike, I see your point, but consider this. They have been doing these one lane flagman/signal closures for years and years, at least 20 or more years I know, on the plains. When was the last time you heard of a tornado impacting cars stopped at one of these?

My point is, while it does present some hazard, I have to believe based on lack of incidents in the past the odds are WAY out there of it happening.

From a chasing aspect though....they are a MAJOR pain in the ass!

I would think the bigger danger would be those freeway parking lots we see at rush hour around DFW and OKC and those sometimes well meaning police roadblocks.
 
Good day,

I just spoke with Mike Theiss himself via email, and I happened to be in that same construction stop as he was in (we did not converge, as we did not recognize each other's chase vehicles). This was about 1/3 the way to Vichy, MO out of Rolla, MO on Highway 63.

There was a woman standing there with a stop-sign and trucks moving about (that was all I can see). The supercell storm had it's beaver's tail, loaded with cracking CG's, draped over her and her "lightning" rod saying "stop" on it.

I waited patiently, wondering why they were not just "taking a break" and realizing the storm was bearing directly DOWN ON THEM. The view to my SW was a rapidly rotating wall cloud which was just minutes away from the T-Genesis "T-Time". One problem ... The 70 DBz+ and 80 VIL+ core, and it's meso, were all moving ENE at 45 knots.

After no more than 5 minutes - It looked so many times as if we would finally "go", but the stop sign just stayed there, and more trucks moved around. The edge of the dark GREEN precip core, 50 MPH winds and the rain foot "drizzle" were just arriving when I said "F--- this, I am outta here!" and busted east on a dirt road later to hook up with highway 68 - which was a lucky decision as the core, which hit Mike Theiss's team and all the others STUCK there got cored. Some cars were destroyed by hail baseball (and possibly grapefruit / softball sized), and this is confirmed.

Fortunately, I barely madse it ahead of the storm for intercept near Saint James, where I witness the tornado (not much of a visible funnel, but lots of airborne debris) and damage at Saint James. Now, Besides some us chasers missing a tornado ... What about the family in their van, stuck there, patiently waiting for the "go" signal - which never came until their windshield was shattered and car hood peened?

I feel for them, I really do. For both chasers who are trying to get in, and those trying to get out, of the storm's path. This is also second to the danger of the construction worker's themselves.

This is where recognizing the threat (severe weather) of both high-risk (PDS) watches and warnings becomes paramont. These people did not know what was coming, not even to stop working with CG's hitting the ground - I remember years back people smoking outside my job during frequent lightning ad not even second thinking they could die doing it. Complacency kills, period.

I second the opinion that you cannot make a one-lane road drivable in a moment's notice, but in this case, they should have shut down operations and let people pass in a quicker pattern. And this incident could have been much worse had the tornado, which hit Saint James, been just five miles farther west.

Amendment3sign.gif


Above - No one wants to either die and / or see their favorite ride get trashed seeing this sign out their window!

Not so "smoooooooth" (smooth) and safe anymore, ey?
 
Back
Top