As Storm Lorenzo approaches its peak, our Motoring Editor, Donal Byrne, has some advice on how to avoid problems, stay safe and protect your car.
Perhaps the most important advice about driving in conditions such as those being whipped up by Storm Lorenzo is: don't drive at all unless you absolutely have to. Most cars these days will give you a sense of security but in conditions like those we are facing over the next 24 hours, that sense of security can be a false one.
Cars are extremely vulnerable in flooding conditions, no matter how modern or expensive they are. They are also vulnerable to cross-winds, falling branches and trees, poor visibility and losing their grip in heavy rain. Any one of these can be extremely dangerous and can make you far more likely to become involved in an accident.
So here are some tips for coping in the current conditions:
1: Carefully heed weather warnings for your area.
2: Don't drive unless you have to and don't make assumptions that this storm is only dangerous in Western or Southern coastal areas. High winds and flooding may occur anywhere.
3: Reduce your speed considerably.
4: Make sure your wipers are up to the work required of them during deluges.
5: Drive with dipped headlights, not matter what time of day it is.
6: Remember that roads and motorways become much more dangerous to drive on during storms. In heavy rain, your visibility can be quickly and dangerously reduced. Aquaplaning - when the tyres lose contact with the road surface and begin to "skate" without grip is obviously highly dangerous but can happen easily.
7: Remember that stopping distances in rain can double, compared to dry conditions.
8: Try to avoid secondary roads as you can find yourself in unexpected trouble and isolated.
9: Do not try to drive through flooded spots unless you are very sure about how deep the water is. It might even necessitate getting out and wet to discover the depth but water ingress can cause catastrophic damage to an engine. Water damage to an engine can involve huge costs and may involve having to replace the engine . The most common and serious damage caused to cars in wet conditions often relates to the electrics, of which most modern cars are highly dependent. Such damage too can be very expensive to repair.
10: Keep your air conditioning running to avoid your windows fogging up.
11: Never drive through fast-flowing water.
12: Remember that older trees and weak branches can fall easily in high winds and this can happen as easily in a town or city as in the countryside.
13: Drive with a fully-charged mobile 'phone.