Northstate rain: challenges and solutions


REDDING, Calif. - Most people here in northern California are happy to see the rain. But the rain does make it harder to get outside and can make driving treacherous.

There are several different ways to occupy yourself when the rains come, but most of us can only spend so much time curled up on the couch. After that, there are movies, museums, skating rinks and an old favorite, bowling.

Bowling alleys do great in the rain. It's a classic indoor activity that everyone can do and have a blast doing.

"We love when it rains," said Country Bowl Manager Kevin Sanderson. "It increases business. I've been in the industry [for] 37 years, and every center I've worked at, we've loved the rain."

Sanderson says that sales can increase by as much as 40 percent on rainy days. He says people love it because it keeps the kids occupied and gets them out of the house.

And it's just a whole lot of fun. He said the biggest challenge can be just getting a lane.

Bowling alleys can be filled up with local leagues and tournaments which can last all day. That was the case this past weekend, which can make it tough for walk-ins to get a lane. But Sanderson says mid-week can be more accessible.

There are other hazards that rain brings, besides some soggy clothes and inaccessible bowling lanes. And one of them can be easily prevented.

Your tires are arguably the most important part of your car since they are, ideally, the only part of the car that touches the ground.

When bald or old tires meet puddles and/or standing water cars can hydroplane and drivers can lose control. The solution: check your tires and make sure there is enough tread on them.

Tire tread does more than help your car stick to the road. It's pattern also helps evacuate water from underneath the tire allowing better contact with more rubber. That rubber-to-pavement contact is what allows you to control your car.

Old and bald tires have very little tread, which makes it very difficult to control when your car hits a puddle at speed.

"It's very important [to maintain your tires] especially with the weather change," said Rocha's Auto Service Manager Ronnie Rocha. "The tread design is to help push the water from underneath it, if there's nowhere for the water to escape, then you can hydroplane."

You can quickly check your tires to make sure they're in good shape. A tire gauge can be bought at most auto parts stores, and is inserted into the gaps between the treads. If the gauge reads 1/8, sometimes indicated as 4/32, of an inch or less, it's time to change your tire. The tire gauges usually run about $3 or $4.

Another way to check your tires is to use a penny. According to mechanics, if you insert the penny with Lincoln's head pointing down and you can see the top of Lincoln's head your tires need to be replaced.

We measured, and it is 1/16th of an inch from the edge of the penny to the top of Lincoln's head. Well within the range that requires the tires to be replaced.