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Winter Driving All About Being READY
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Winter driving all about being ready
Monday, January 17, 2000
By Jerry F. Boone of The Oregonian staff
Through rain, sleet and the dark of night, Oregonians survived winter's first onslaught last week. So, hardy commuter, are you ready for the next round?
Things could well get worse before they get better, and the best advice is to be prepared for more winter weather. Here are some tips about what to do and how to do it:
Battery: If your battery is more than a couple of years old, have a "start/charge" check performed on it. Some service stations and parts stores will do it at no cost. Stores that sell batteries also generally will check the system for free; but remember, they are in the business of selling batteries.
Batteries create electricity via a chemical reaction. That reaction slows down, and the battery reduces its power as the temperature drops. A battery that works fine at 60 degrees may struggle at 30 degrees.
If you need a new battery, buy the most powerful one (rated in cold cranking amps) you can afford.
Even if your battery is fine, a set of high-quality jumper cables can make the difference between getting home or not for you or someone else. If you have to jump start a vehicle, remember to first turn off the lights, radio and accessories of the car needing the jump. Then hook up the red wires to the positive terminals, beginning with the good battery. Attach one end of the black wire to the negative terminal of the car with the good battery. Last, attach the other end to the metal frame of the car needing the jump start.
Remove them in reverse order. Do not let the red and black wires touch each other while they are attached to a battery. Window: Switch to winter solution in the washer system. Or at least increase the soap content of what is in the reservoir. The nights are still long, and you can't avoid danger you can't see.
You can prolong the life of your wiper blades by being sure to turn off the wipers and letting them return to the resting position before you turn the key off. That will prevent you from starting the car (and the wiper motor) while the blades are frozen to the windshield. Another trick is to lift up the wiper blades and place a few pieces of newspaper (you can pick your favorite section) on the windshield to help keep it clear. Or simply pull the wiper blade arms forward until they lock in the upright position. Lights: Check lights frequently. Wipe off the layer of road grime on headlights. Check that all the turnlights and emergency flashers work.
Traction: If you drove in last week's snow, you already know if your tires are worn out. The deeper the grooves and the more "open" the tread, the better tires will bite into the snow. It is the tread -- not studs -- that move you in snow. Studs work only when the vehicle needs traction on ice.
If you need new tires, consider buying a set of extra wheels (either new or through a wrecking yard) to save the cost of mounting and dismounting them twice a year. An extra set of wheels also encourages drivers to run studded tires only when they are needed.
A bag of sand, kitty litter or chicken scratch (available at most feed stores) can give you enough traction to get going again on ice. A folding shovel from a military surplus store is handy to dig out when you are in deep snow.
Emergency stuff: Sometimes even the best-prepared winter warrior ends up in a jam. Those who have prepared have:
Phone numbers of your preferred towing operator, neighbors, insurance company, etc. Keep them in the glove box.
Accident form to fill out just in case there's a dented fender.
Coins for a pay phone (or a well-charged cell phone).
Footwear that is comfortable and dry. It could be a hike to the phone. Keep a pair of boots in the trunk, along with an older coat and non-dress gloves.
Flashlight to find the phone. An inexpensive, battery-powered red strobe light commonly used by bicycle commuters is a great way to alert motorists that you are walking along the road.
Blankets to keep warm if you have to remain with your car. If you are on one of the major Portland-area highways patrolled by ODOT's COMET trucks, it is best to stay with your vehicle unless it poses an accident risk. Often times the COMET truck can get you going without the cost of a tow truck.
Snacks of high-energy food. Also carry extra prescription medicines if you must take them on a regular basis.
-- Ashton & Leska (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2000
Yeah! Being prepared is the best peace-of-mind insurance :-)
Wind, flooding, ice, snow ...
-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (email@example.com), January 18, 2000.
Keep your gas tank at least half full--if you get stuck, you will need to run the engine to heat the car. Also should have a backup source of heat in the car--candles (and matches), remember to crack the window when using candles inside the car.
Studded tires? Are these still legal in Oregon? They were outlawed in my part of the world 30 years ago because they chewed up the highways when there was no snow.
-- Lars (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2000.
Thanks, good tips.
-- Amy Leone (email@example.com), January 18, 2000.
FEMA Urges Consumers To Keep Y2K Preparedness Items
-- (Always@be.prepared), January 18, 2000.
Bitter Cold Grips Northeast
By Jonathan Ewing, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2000; 12:47 p.m. EST
Temperatures dropped into the basement again today in the Northeast in a cold wave that's producing a bitter reality check in an otherwise mild winter.
Just two weeks ago, some people in the region went outside in T-shirts to play golf in 60-degree weather.
Volunteer cooperative observers reported lows today in northern Vermont of 38 below zero at Enosburg Falls, and minus 33 at Sutton, the National Weather Service said.
"This is typical January, middle-of-the-winter stuff," said Jason Neilson at the weather service office in Burlington, Vt.
Still, it was so cold that the Olympic Regional Development Authority at Lake Placid, N.Y., couldn't even make ice for its new mile-long luge track Monday.
"Water has frozen up in the lines and we can't wet the track," said Sandy Caligiore, the authority's director of communications.
That didn't stop skiers. Observers at the summit of Whiteface Mountain, a ski area not far from Lake Placid, reported a low Monday of 33 below with an estimated wind chill of 100 below.
High wind forced the closure of six of the 11 ski lifts and Caligiore was surprised to see any customers. "They were 512 more people than I expected to find on the mountain," she said.
In addition to Vermont, temperatures below zero also were common today across the rest of the Northeast.
Although no records were set today, Saranac Lake, N.Y., reported 29 below zero; the northern New Hampshire town of Berlin dropped to 28 below zero, and Allagash, Maine, hit 21 below, the weather service said. Massachusetts' coldest town was Westfield at 9 below, New Jersey posted a low of 5 below at Charlottsburg, and Danbury, Conn., registered minus 2.
For many places in the Northeast it's been three years since it was this frigid.
"It was cold, but we've dealt with it before," Debbie Payeur, a receptionist for the Berlin public schools, said of this morning chill.
By contrast, the upper Midwest is enjoying a small break from its usual cold. Minneapolis-St. Paul reached a high of 28 Monday before dropping overnight to 18, slightly above the normal high and low of 20 and 2. Even International Falls, the northern Minnesota town known for nasty cold, had a high Monday of 26.
Farther south, winter made an appearance in North Carolina today as up to 6 inches of snow closed schools and businesses in the state's Piedmont region. Some West Virginia schools closed or opened late because of snow, and sleet and freezing rain also delayed some schools in South Carolina.
After a high of 59 on Sunday at Baltimore-Washington International airport, Monday's high was only 29. Maryland's Laurel Park canceled the day's last seven horse races because the weather was "not fit for man or beast," track spokeswoman Ann Taylor said.
Hopping on a horse, she said, would be like taking out a convertible with no windshield. "Going 40 miles an hour on a horse wearing little more than underwear is the scene I'm setting for you," Taylor said.
Chesapeake Hills Golf Club in Lusby, Md., has covered golf carts equipped with propane heaters for golfers who can't bring themselves to stop for winter.
"We have seven or eight players out there today, believe it or not," golf professional Tom Henderson said Monday. "But it's nothing like yesterday."
Lawrence Coppola of Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., said his 11-pound terrier mix shook for about 20 minutes after he returned inside from a walk.
"He has a tough time warming up after he's outside, but he has no choice but to go outside," he said.
-- h (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 18, 2000.
I was trapped in near-zero in my car for 3 hours. Had to tear off a seat cover, and stuffed wadded newspapers for insulation. Wish they had cell phones then. Hear they work in most areas for *911, even if you have no service. <---good ides to get a cheap one for teenagers to keep in the car.
Good idea to keep old boots and wool socks/glove (or liners). When you're digging out, you get soaked sometimes. Sucks if you remain stuck, then have to walk in wet shoes & socks.
-- Hokie (Hokie_@hotmail.com), January 19, 2000.
In NE MN, here's what I would consider a minimal list of stuff for winter survival in a non 4WD vehicle:
-container of ashes (>4 gallons)
->40' of chain for the comealong
-chains for the drivetires
->300 lbs. of weight for the back end of the vehicle
-serious clothes and sleeping bag/blankets
-2 days hard rations (cookies/crackers/granola)
You get the idea.
-- MinnesotaSmith (email@example.com), January 19, 2000.