With More of the Nation To See Snow This Winter Than in Years Past, Here’s What You Need To Know

MILA PARH / shutterstock.com
MILA PARH / shutterstock.com

People have always spread out across the country. Relocating to a new city or state brings about some great adventures, and a lot of lessons learned, many the hard way. With many people fleeing overtaxed or overpriced locations, they chose the more rural life, and many made the change to live with snow. Before the flakes start to fly for winter 2023, you need to know a few things.

  • Leave extra time: When driving in snow, you’ll need to cut your speed down. From poor road conditions to other drivers going slowly, to cleaning off and heating your car. All these steps take time and planning. Expecting snow and normally leave at 8:40 for a 15-minute drive to work, so you get there by 8:55? Plan on leaving at 8:30 that morning. If that originally included a Starbucks run, add another 15.
  • Expect ice: Slick surfaces can freeze easily, especially bridges and underpasses. These areas of highway are known as accident magnets due to the unpredictably slick surfaces. South of 40* air temperature and you need to plan for it, especially at night and when precipitation is already coming down.
  • Prepare the car supplies: Keep some water, nonperishable food, a blanket, and a hat and gloves in the car. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just warm and, if possible, brightly colored. Reflective vests or belts, a flashlight with new batteries (hand crank backup), a first aid kid, an air pump, a phone charger, a shovel, jumper cables, and a roadside tool kit should already be part of your storage anyways.
  • Mechanically check your car: This means top off your fluids, inspect your lights and signals, wipers, and have your tires checked. Live in an area with frequent or heavy snow? Look at snow tires. Deeply treaded and often studded, they can help you stay on the road and safe even when the snow builds up. This is not an area to pinch pennies.
  • Drive responsibly: If you’ve never driven on snow, find someone who is willing to help you learn. Most people who grew up driving in snow learn by sliding around in a parking lot. Fully inspect the lot on foot and know any and all obstacles before starting any snow-driving lessons. A slide into a parking block at just 15 mph can cause enough of an inertia spill to roll an SUV.
  • Expect the unexpected: Unlike rain, snow is fiercely unpredictable. At times areas forecast to get just 2-4 inches of snow overnight (not a lot) can suddenly get a storm that lasts 6 hours and has periods of 2 inches of snow an hour. It can quickly shift and change due to wind conditions and changes in the pressure.
  • What to do when you slide: Well that all depends. Are you spinning around, or sliding on a turn? Are you on snow or ice? Is there immediate danger if you continue the slide or can you slip through it? All of these situations have their nuances. Generally though, If you slowly take your foot off the accelerator, and simply turn into the slide you can control it. Fight your urge to jerk the wheel back the other way, that can make the slide worse by a significant degree.

The biggest thing to know about driving on snow is that you just need to use common sense. If it’s coming down heavy, stay where you are or get a ride from someone with experience. A trial by fire is fun for certain things, but not when you can easily put yourself and countless others at significant risk by being inexperienced.