Massive flooding in Oregon: This is what hydroplaning looks like

It’s shaping up to be a dangerous week on Portland-area roads.

After a near-record rainfall in recent days, parts of Oregon and southwest Washington are under a flood watch.

The torrential rain has already resulted in a landslide, multiple road closures, and flooded streets. Standing water in streets is dangerous: not only does it conceal potholes, it creates a barrier between your tires and the street.

Hydroplaning occurs when your car’s tires aren’t connecting with the road surface because of standing water, resulting in the loss of traction and driver control.

This is what hydroplaning looks like:


ABC NEWS: What to do when your car hydroplanes

The Portland Bureau of Transportation suggests to avoid hydroplaning, you should check your tire pressure, drive slowly, avoid puddles, and drive in the tracks of cars ahead of you.

Realistically, even if you do all of these things—and “avoiding puddles” may not be possible on Oregon roads—you may still need a refresher course on controlling a hydroplaning car or truck.

Signs Your Car is Starting to Hydroplane

Hydroplaning can happen quickly, especially in very wet weather.

  • Loud sound of water rising up in front of tires
  • Steering wheel twitches under your hands
  • Traction control light may appear on dashboard
  • Car starts to swerve side-to-side as tires lose traction

Recovering from a hydroplane

If you notice one or more of the signs of hydroplaning, do not brake.

The water is a barrier between the tires and the road surface: there is no traction, and your vehicle will spin. Most hydroplaning car accidents are caused by a driver quickly applying the brakes.

Remove your foot from the gas pedal. Don’t try to correct your vehicle’s path, but instead, gently steer in the direction of the swerve.

Hydroplaning usually only lasts a few seconds. When you feel the traction of the tires hitting pavement, you can begin to brake slowly.


More rain is predicted for Oregon and Washington in the next few days. Fearing your commute this week? Take a minute to review Safe Driving in the Rain.