As the winter season approaches, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has announced the opening of additional shelters through the Extended Winter Program. This program is activated during wet and cold weather conditions to provide safe and dry accommodation for those in need. Qualified individuals receive vouchers for motel accommodations close to their location, if possible. The goal is to keep people safe and dry during storms, especially as Southern California braces for upcoming inclement weather.
During the 2022-2023 winter season, over 5,400 people took advantage of the extended shelter program, representing a significant increase of 652% compared to the previous season. To request shelter in Los Angeles, individuals can dial 211 or 800-548-6047.
In addition to the challenges faced by the homeless population during inclement weather, motorists in Southern California are also dealing with the hazards of heavy rains and flooded roads. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) and local authorities have issued warnings about the dangers of hydroplaning, or “skidding,” when driving in rainy conditions and on wet roads.
Hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning, occurs when a vehicle loses traction while traveling at a certain speed on a surface covered with water. The main danger of hydroplaning is the loss of control over the vehicle, leading to multiple accidents on the roads. Rainwater on the roads reduces the friction needed between the tires and the ground, making it difficult to increase speed or change direction.
Contrary to popular belief, hydroplaning can occur even when roads are slightly wet. While the grooves or patterns of tire treads are designed to force water out of the road and increase friction, sometimes the amount of fluid is more than they can evacuate, causing the water to wedge under the tire and lift it off the pavement, resulting in hydroplaning.
To prevent hydroplaning, experts recommend slowing down as soon as the first drops of rain begin to fall on the windshield of your vehicle. It is also safer to drive 5 to 10 miles below the speed limit, or even slower during severe storms and strong gusts of wind. Sudden acceleration on wet roads puts drivers at greater risk of hydroplaning. Keeping tires well-balanced and replacing them when they are smooth or have lost tread can also help prevent hydroplaning.
If a vehicle begins to hydroplane, experts advise taking the foot off the accelerator and never using the brakes to try to stop the vehicle suddenly. Instead, turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction into which the vehicle slides can help realign the tires in the direction the car was initially traveling, allowing the driver to regain control of the vehicle.
Once the vehicle is back on track and aligned with the direction of the road, drivers can begin to apply light pressure on the brake pedal to slow the tires down while still rolling and regaining traction with the surface.
As Southern California prepares for the winter season and the potential challenges it brings, it is important for both the homeless population and motorists to be aware of the resources and precautions available to ensure safety and well-being during inclement weather. The efforts of organizations like LAHSA and the guidance provided by authorities can help mitigate the impact of winter storms and keep individuals safe and secure.
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