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Summer rains hit Carbon County

Torrential rains have dowsed Carbon Country for the past several days. The wet conditions have led to mud slides, road deterioration and dangerous driving conditions such as potential hydroplaning.
This wrecked sedan in East Carbon may have fell victim to the dangerously wet conditions Friday night.

Sun Advocate community editor

After months of dry weather, a burst of mid-summer rain caused severe damage at several location and created dangerous driving conditions for Carbon residents.

A massive mudslide last Thursday closed U.S. Highway 6 for more than 10 hours in Price Canyon. And as torrential rains continued into Friday and Saturday, flood water caused significant damage to Canyon Road near Millsite State Park in Ferron.

The U.S. 6 slide caused a long portion of Price Canyon to be closed from Billy's Mountain to mile marker 191 starting at approximately 2 p.m. on Aug. 7, according to Tina Jensen of the Utah Department of Transportation.

The closure was followed by a flash flood warning that remained in effect throughout portions of the weekend as the rain continued.

While the damage from flood debris and mudslides can be an immediate threat, just traversing the flooding roads can be a major challenge.

"Losing control of your car on wet pavement is a frightening experience," said a driving tips sheet from the Utah Safety Council. "Unfortunately, it can happen unless you take preventative measures. You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch and when you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain pressure on the brake pedal."

The fact sheet recommends that once in a "skid" remaining calm is of paramount importance.

"Ease your foot off the gas and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes," explains the sheet. "This procedure known as 'steering into the skid' will bring back the end of your car in line with the front. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid."

Hydroplaning can also be a major problem when driving in wet conditions. Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of the vehicles tires builds up faster than the car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes the car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between the tires and the road.

"At this point, your car can be completely out of contact with the road," explains the safety council information. "And you are in danger of skidding or drifting out of your lane or even off the road."

To avoid this, the council recommended keeping the tires properly inflated at all times and maintaining good tread on the vehicles tires. Also slow down when the roads are wet and avoid puddles when possible.

"Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly," stresses the safety council. "This could throw your car into a skid."

Instead, it is recommended that the motorist ease off the gas until the car slows and the driver can feel the road again. If braking is needed at this point do it slowly and with gentle pumping actions, again if the car is equipped with ABS then brake normally.

Some additional safe severE weather driving tips include:

•When traveling in high winds in addition to rain, be cautious of the effect of the pull this can have on taller vehicles.

•When dust decreases visibility in conjunction with rain adjust the amount of distance between vehicles.

•Try to travel during daylight hours as animals or other debris on the road are much more visible.

•Check weather reports before departing.

•Let others know the route to be taken and an estimated time of arrival.

•Always fill the gas tank before entering open country or dangerous driving conditions.

If something like a skid, mudslide or gas problem occurs make sure the vehicle is prepared.

"If your vehicle breaksdown, pull as far off the road as possible and turn on the warning lights," recommends the council. "Your greatest personal danger at this point is that of being hit by a passing car."

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