KSN Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: Using caution on rainy roadways and the impact of fallen leaves

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With more significant swings in temperatures and a more active weather pattern into the fall, gusty winds can cause complications. These blustery Kansas winds help to shake the leaves free from trees while blanketing roadways. Add in passing showers and the rain will lead to reduced traction.

While many high-speed Kansas roads do not have tree lines close to the roadway, residential and downtown areas may be where you run into these issues. You do not have to be traveling fast too quickly and find yourself sliding on the road. If it is raining or has recently rained with leaves on the ground, your stopping distance can be almost doubled due to reduced traction. In some ways, it can be compared to driving on icy roads.

Leaves absorb water through the roots of their trees. They are not made to absorb water through their leaves. Leaves are covered in trichomes which are cells that have tiny hairs that collect water.

On these hairs, you will find a waxy substance that creates a waterproof barrier on the leaf. It decreases friction between your tire and the leaf as well as the leaf and the road it is on. The more leaves on the ground, the more your traction will be reduced.

Remember to increase your distance between yourself and the car in front of you. Do not use cruise control. Make sure to check your tire tread before hitting the highway. You will also want to reduce your speed, watch for winding roads and high-speed areas. If your car begins to skid, take your foot off the gas and point your wheels in the direction of the skid until your car regains traction. Do not slam on the breaks.

As we continue to approach the peak of our fall foliage and as leaves fall off the trees, it is best to stay vigilant to changing road and weather conditions.

— Meteorologist Erika Paige

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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