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driving in winter  RSS feed

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Posts: 27442
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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When I was young, when we were going to travel 500 miles in the winter, we added 30% to our normal travel time and then went. We didn't check the pass conditions, we didn't check the weather and nearly everybody had a rear-wheel drive vehicle. When we encountered snowy conditions we would slow down. If it got bad enough, we would put on chains.

Today, people meticulously study the weather and pass reports. Even though they have all-wheel-drive vehicles and studded snow tires.

You are about to drive through a dozen weather systems. And if the weather reports are often wrong, even when they predict clear weather.

Just go.

Yes, you might need to slow down sometimes. Yes, you might even need to stop at a restaurant for two hours instead of 30 minutes.

Paul's tips for driving in the snow:

1) slow down. The people in the ditch on the side of the road were most likely going too fast. Slowing down is not going to solve everything, but it does solve almost everything.

2) don't spin your tires or skid. People that aren't used to snow have some bizarre, powerful need to spin their tires. There have been a dozen occasions where I tried to help somebody stuck in the snow and I said "I'll help you, as long as you don't spin your tires." Then they spin their tires, and I am now perfectly comfortable with leaving them stuck in the snow.

Sure, roads and freeways and stuff will close sometimes. And in cold country, they have lots of snow plows - they will have it open soon and you will be on your way again. It's no big deal.

Around here, getting 20 inches of snow in a day is no big deal. Getting 30 inches of snow in an hour will close stuff for an hour or two. But that is super rare.

And once in a while there could be some massive weather event that does close down 20 states. That happens once every five years, and, okay, maybe wait a day.

But other than that: just go.

Finally: I don't know how often I have heard about severe weather and the possibility of three feet of snow coupled with ten foot drifts only two see two inches of snow and the roads were clear the whole time. And, at the same time, heard about clear weather, only to experience terrible weather.

Just go.

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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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And we always carry supplies with us just in case we do have to stop for a while. Food, water, sleeping bags, warm clothes and snowboots, shovels, sand or cat litter, etc.
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Countries which habitually get proper snow do better than we do here in the UK - 6 inches here is really rare. Our big problem is the combination of slushy snow and refreezing... we quickly get ice-rink conditions... not helped of course by the 1 in 10 idiots who wheel spin and polsih away whatever grip there might have been.
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