El Niño is expected to bring wet weather to California this winter. This strong weather pattern, arguably the strongest seen since 1950, suggests El Niño could cause serious flooding in the state.
You may be asking, what is El Niño? Roughly every three to six years, sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean become warmer or cooler than normal. This creates climate cycles, which can influence weather patterns across the globe.
As a result of El Niño, California is expected to see unusually warm temperatures in the coming year, which means most of the precipitation California usually gets as snow, will fall as rain. Since areas of California are experiencing severe drought, rain is welcome. However, it’s not welcome if you are a motorcyclist and will require preparedness and cautious riding to remain safe on the road.
I can’t think of anyone that truly enjoys riding in the rain. In fact, many people try to avoid it at all costs. While we don’t recommend riding in the rain, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Here are some tips on how to ride through this El Niño safely:

  1. One of the most important things you can do when it rains is to dress appropriately. Have the proper attire such as jackets, pants, boot covers. Wear breathable rain-proof gear.
  1. Be sure you have the best tires available for the rain. The worst thing you can do is drive around with bald tires in the rain.
  1. Keep your eyes focused on the road. It’s going to be very slippery out. Always watch out for debris and remember that metal plates and manhole covers should be avoided as much as possible.
  1. While it may sound like fun riding through a puddle, it may be wise just to avoid them altogether. You never know how deep the puddle is or what it’s hiding.
  1. Take all railroad crossings as straight as possible. The tracks are metal and get very slippery when wet. Proceed with caution and straighten your bike.
  1. When you need to apply your brakes, make sure you are using the more of the rear brakes than you normally would. It is much easier to correct your rear wheel slides than front wheel slides.
  1. Allow yourself more space between you and other vehicles around you. Braking is much more difficult and takes longer in the rain.
  1. Try to be as visible as possible. As you may know, it can be very difficult to be seen in the rain. Wear bright clothing so it will be easy for drivers to see you even in the most intense downpours.
  1. Slow down! Riders should lower their speed up to 20 percent when riding in the rain. This will help keep you safe from any unnecessary accidents.
  1. Motorcyclists don’t have windshield wipers, so it is important to use a product like Rain-X that repels the rain from your helmet visor. One or two sprays should be plenty and will definitely help you when precipitation strikes.

While El Niño conditions are not a guarantee, motorcyclists must be prepared for the rain it will undoubtedly bring with it. So, check the weather forecast regularly, plan ahead and take all of the necessary precautions to ride safely through El Niño.