Today's post is going to cover a subject that had me freaking out before I moved, and for good reason. Herein lies IMPORTANT wisdom that you could already know.
If you've followed this series, you know I came out here from the wasteland of the south, where the first response to snow on the roads is MOAR SALT. They don't use salt up here on the roads. Ever. It's still weird to be at times, but it works. We do however have the infrastructure to handle storms (usually), which TN definitely did not.
For starters, the arguably most important thing you need to know before expecting to have a car in resort land in the winter time is "snow tires". These are a must, period. Chances are, when you buy them "snow tires" won't be an option. Instead, request all-terrain with deep treads. DEEP treads. Ideally, you want a four wheel drive. At the least you will need front wheel drive. If you're planning to go somewhere crazy, such as an abandoned ghost resort for some cleared back country, you may even need to invest in a set of chains.
During a typical storm the snow will accumulate enough on the roads to be bad after 2 hours, though I have been here through a storm when we had over 4 inches standing on roads in less than an hour. It usually takes the snow plows (what makes our infrastructure awesome) about an hour and a half to make a first pass over each of the roads. There are several of them, and their routes cover the Interstate & the major highways first. Second are usually town roads & school bus routes. You do NOT want to drive during the hour between the plows first trips and their third. There are several reasons as to why you don't, which I've learned first hand. For starters, They go from point A to point B, back to point A, continuing on. If you're on the road opposite of them when they are returning from point B to do point A again, you'll get to experience the always safe 4 foot high wall of snow-sludge flung from the plow onto your windshield. I really can't put into words how fucking scary it is when this happens. You can't hit your brakes because of sliding, and you can't see the road at the crucial moment in time when the huge fuck off plow truck is opposite you. Just avoid driving during this time, for safety. Rule of thumb: Wait 3 hours from the first signs of snow accumulation before you try to drive the roads. Don't be impatient, it's not worth ending up in a ditch or worse.
During heavier storms the roads themselves will become snow-roads. As in the plows and other vehicles have driven over the snow so much that it's compacted down to make its own road. As crazy as it sounds, these are usually easy to drive on, with one exception: You will slide when you turn, period. There's no avoiding it. I've fishtailed our company cars so many times even when making a left turn at 5 mph. If you have shitty tires/didn't listen to the most important part, you will also probably slide anytime you brake. It's safer just to coast when approaching an intersection or a redlight. One scary sketchy aspect of these snow-roads is it is usually impossible to gauge where the lines are defining your lane. Rule of thumb is to follow the path of the other cars in your lane, which will be obviously defined with tire tracks all throughout. Be warned that during curves these tracks tend to be the only icy patches. The worst however is when fresh snow is falling on a snow road before new plowers have come. I've been caught in this once after leaving some movie. Sketchiest drive of my life - took me roughly 35 minutes to go 9 miles. Visibility was shitawful, and there was absolutely no way to tell where my lane was versus where the other side of the roads lane was. No yellow line, no white dotted lines, no shoulder lines, nothing. I drove slow as hell and gauged distance from speed limit/road signs to my right, but fucking a my tracks had to look like a constant S. It's really just best to be a little brave & figure out the limitations of what you can and can't handle.
During awful storms all major roads will shut down. Hope you planned on staying home. These will usually always be open and clear enough to drive on by 10 am the next morning, given said awful storm isn't ongoing. If you are home then your car is parked and is getting it's own nice fluffy layer. You're a resort slave and there's no way in hell you have a place with its own garage. Unless you're paying upwards of a grand. It may make you smile to watch it pile on your car, but you need to remove that shit before nightfall, and asap on colder days. If you leave settled snow on your car overnight, or on it for several hours during a fuck all cold day in february, the entire bottom layer of said car snow will become ice. This is not a pleasant experience. This is a pain in the fucking ass. Don't even risk discovering it for yourself, just heed my advice. You will want to invest in a heavy duty snow brush, and keep it on hand at all times. An important step that many tourists never do is to brush the snow off your headlights when removing it from the rest of your car. Also, please please please brush all the snow off the top of your car. Otherwise you'll induce the same circumstance as driving beside a new snow-plowing truck on the car behind you, and that's a dick move. Your cars going to get filthy. It's going to stay filthy for 6 months at the least. It's not even worth it to wash it.
There is one problem that plagues high elevation extreme cold winter cars: temperature windshield cracks. You will see these on the windshields of several unfortunate individuals. It sucks, and insurance will usually replace it. The crack is almost always in the same shape, looking like a gentle lowercase n written by someone with palsy all across the windshield. To my knowledge there is no way to avoid this from happening (if you know how to prevent it PLEASE share with me), and when/if it happens to you consider yourself unlucky. Hasn't happened to me yet. And if it fucking does it will only be because I posted that here. Your windshield wipers are fucked. The sooner you accept that they'll need to be replaced almost twice a year here, the better off you'll be.
Tourists can't drive for shit. For the best example, see Shangri: Year One - The Drunken Asshole
. Sadly, this has happened to others I've known from sober drivers. Several parking lots next to the hotel-esque buildings all over resort are shielded from the sun day in and day out by said buildings. As a result, the parking lots turn into glacial ice sheets. These are awful to drive on, and brutal to step out of a car onto. I've fallen on my hip multiple times climbing out of cars, hurts like a bitch. Beyond parking lot nightmares, gaper-tourists have a tendency to live up to their name sake while driving on the fucking highways. For example, two days ago I was commuting to work on the clear highway, and the car in front of me started weaving and then slowed to 20 mph in a 45. I passed them, and felt the fury only tourists can induce when the driver and everyone else in the car were pointing and looking at the absolute shittiest looking peak on that stretch of road. Hell, if they'd fucking looked forward their view would've blown their minds and they would've seen why i dubbed this place shangri, but no. Fucking tourists. There is some joy to be had from them. My first year here I went to one of the pizza places on resort for carry out. While waiting for it to be ready I got to watch a family attempt to drive their mini van up an ice covered hill that even my honda can make on a bad day. It took this family a good 8 tries before they finally had family members stand on the rear bumper of the van and hauled it up. Watching them slide back down and get more and more frustrated was pure gold. Fucking tourists are also notorious for driving exceptionally slow when there are bare traces of snow on the road. We're talking 15 in a 55 on the clearly tracked out snow-road on a clear skies day with perfect visibility. There's no words to describe the rage of being stuck behind one when the highways dip down to 1 lane. At least not currently. Then again, I haven't been stuck behind one since last year. If/when it happens I'll edit this to reflect my feelings.
I realize a lot of this should be no brainer for anyone who lives in a place where there is winter, but goddammit i wish someone had put all this info in one place for me before I moved. So here you go.