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Denver — A Few Notes from the Blizzard

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by MBane666, Dec 21, 2006.

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  1. MBane666

    MBane666 Member

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    After my fun 11-hour drive to-and-from Denver International Airport in the heart of the worst blizzard in a decade, I thought I might post a few pointers on SHTF scenarios.

    • Pay attention...we knew what we were going into, thanks to local TV, the Waether Chanel and several weather-related internet sites.

    • Get specialized training...both my Sweetie and I have been through the BMW Ice Driving School in Montreal; yeah, cars act hinky in ice and snow, but it doesn't mean their not driveable.

    • Make sure your clothing is appropriate...my Sweetie and I could have walked out if we had to (it helps to have 3 IditaSport, the Feb ultramarathon in Alaska, experiences...not the first blizzard we've seen).

    • Have specialized gear...we were ready to go to ground if we had to. Also, make sure your car is ALWAYS topped off with gas. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your vehicle. I passed lots of dead/piled up SUVs who thought their "dedicated 4WD could do more than it really could."

    • Don't stint on your equipment...my lowly 4WD Honda Element is the opposite of macho, but it is equipped with dreadfully expensive Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires and I carry (and used last night) a set of Z-Chains, also expensive and worth every penny.

    • Make a plan, and execute same...I decided I was going to drive home, and I did. I never let myself get sucked into someone else's plan — going faster or slower, for instance. At times I was down to 1 mph, pretty much what I averaged on foot in one IditaSport, but as long as I had 10 feet of visibility, I could follow tracks.

    • Real World feedback is critical...through cellphones, we had people feeding us realtime info on routes, closings, etc. off television and the internet. We basically drove a strange twisting route around huge car pileups, iced unclimbable hills, closed interstates, etc.

    • As they say in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy...DON'T PANIC!!!

    Now I'm SNOWED IN AT HOME, but hey, the electricity's still up, and if it goes down, I've got heat, water, food, batteries, beer and ammo. I'll finally get around to watching the last episode of SURVIVOR on my laptop!

    Michael B
     
  2. Keith Wheeler

    Keith Wheeler Member

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    Tires are like ammunition for your ride. Expecting "all season" tires to solve all driving problems is like expecting plinking ammo to be a "man-stopper" or "match grade".

    My favorite snow tires, from my rally days, are Nokian Hakkapeliittas (hockey pucks we called 'em). Them Scandanavians sure know how to make snow tires! I've driven on dedicated snow tires, rally tires, slicks, autocross tires, and various flavors of off-road tires for my Rover. Choose a tire to meet the needs, they are even more specialized than bullets. "M&S" rated all season tires just aren't really good for mud or snow. Having the right tire can make a world of difference. I'd drive my rally car around in the snow on Hakkas just because it was so much fun!

    On "4WD": people really need to understand the dynamics of their drive-line. A "four wheel drive" with open diffs is really two wheel drive (and only then if the transfer case is locked). For most people "all wheel drive" -- (full time four wheel drive with limited slip diffs in all three places) is the best.

    Good luck Michael! Stay warm!
     
  3. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    It’s always amusing to watch the idjits in their jacked up 4x4s blazing around on the roads when it snows hard. They believe that because they have four wheel drive that they can buzz around like it’s a dry sunny day. They’ll ride up on your bumper with a look of righteous indignation on their faces because you are driving at a reasonable speed.

    The soccer mom in her Subaru drives slowly past the F150 4x4 with the mudder tires upside-down in the ditch. :rolleyes:

    “Hey cowboy, guess what, everybody has four wheel brakes.” When the roads are slick, it isn’t the going that’s as important as the stopping.
     
  4. riverdog

    riverdog Member

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    Power is nothing without control
     
  5. foghornl

    foghornl Member

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    I see it every year here in Greater Cleveland, for at least the first 2 snows of the season....

    Folks that are unclear on this concept...

    four-wheel drive DOES NOT equal four-wheel stop.

    Brother that lives in the Mid-South tells me "4-Wheel drive just gets you stuck 75 yards farther off the road....":D :D :D :evil:
     
  6. Ilovemyglock

    Ilovemyglock Member

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    My wife has an Subaru Forester AWD and i have a Chevy 4x4, we take the Scooby-Doo in the major storms....."Which we haven't any yet!!!"
    AWD is the fashizzle!!;)
     
  7. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    Gonna insert one snow driving rant here...

    /Ranton
    Folks, if it's snowing and slippery and you are driving downhill and someone else is trying to get uphill... GIVE THEM THE DAMNED RIGHT OF WAY! If they need to crawl through a red light to make it up the hill... LET 'EM! You've got gravity to help you get going again and they don't.
    /Rantoff

    And now back to the origional topic.
    MBane666 - Glad to hear you are safe, sensible, and prepared!
     
  8. anotherKevin

    anotherKevin Member

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    How long will it last?

    That's the big question for me - I'm driving there next week! I have my chains, and yes, I have an F150 4x4, but it's not "jacked up". And many years of riding motorcycles in the snow, back in blighty.
     
  9. phonesysphonesys

    phonesysphonesys Member

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    MBANE666

    I just finished plowing my driveway with my truck. No snow plow. Just 4 wheel drive. The snow in my driveway is up to my waist. How deep is it at your place. It sure was a mess in Denver last night. I was lucky I did'nt have to make any calls in town. It sounds like you got pretty lucky.

    Stay warm

    Semper Fi
     
  10. 308win

    308win Member

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    He almost had it right, four wheel drive will get you stuck in places you couldn't get to with two wheel drive.
     
  11. jlbraun

    jlbraun Member

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    I just finished digging out my car. Snow was up to the top of the doors on my Accord. Had to yank it out with my buddy's F150 and a tow strap.
     
  12. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm in Centennial looking at 2-3 feet of snow. Drifted more in places... officially 32 inches.

    I found holes in my plan.

    BIG holes.

    Tire chains not in back of truck where I always leave them. But apparently I didn't. Chains in garage don't fit truck in driveway. Hmmmm.

    Emergency snow kit (chains/shovel/blanket/flares/etc etc) in back of Jeep in perfect condition. Jeep not running.

    :confused:

    Yeah I'm an idiot.

    Dr. Rob is going back to Boy Scout school.

    They say no plan survives initial contact... well I know better and I still could have had a problem.
     
  13. redneckrepairs

    redneckrepairs Member

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    Down here in SE colorado ( Baca County ) we got from a foot to 18 inches on the level . Wind between 30 to 50 mph today so its drifting up . I had to run and drop a bale for the cattle today ( 27 miles one way ) Highway 287 is still open , but a sheet of ice that is drifting to about two to three ft in places before dot can get back over it with the plows , secondairy roads are worse . When i got out to feed , found the water had froze up , so i get to do it again tomorrow only pulling a 1k gallon water tank on a trailer lol .
     
  14. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

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    I remember getting caught in a blizzard back in the 60s between Last Chance and Limon CO. Redneckrepairs can tell you about those eastern Colorado blizzards.

    Anyway, it took us about 2.5 hours to make the trip, I think its about 20 miles. Fortunately, my dad grew up on the drylands, so we had a full tank of gas and blankets before setting out in our 1956 Plymouth. Sometimes we would have to stop until we could see a fence or white lines on the road.

    One older couple in a truck/camper were having a hard time, so dad stopped and went back to tell them to follow us. By the time dad got back to the car, his fingertips were frostbitten (still bother him when it gets cold).

    When we got to Limon, all roads were closed going out, and they were putting people up in the HS gym. Fortunately, my great aunt and uncle lived on Main Street, so we stayed with them.

    The WORST part though, was my dad woke us up at the break of dawn, piled us in the car, and made sure we got back to Pueblo before school started. I was in high school, and had the perfect excuse to miss a day's school, and dad screwed it up. :mad:
     
  15. MBane666

    MBane666 Member

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    We got a solid 3-4 feet of snow in the high country, and it drifted all over the place. Back of my house is up to my waist, too. I am amazed the power held. Had a guy with a plow come cut the driveway out, but still had hours of shoveling...you know how it goes. Left the chains on the Honda, just in case. The roads should be pretty clear by the weekend.

    I really like the Z-Chains (http://www.autosportcatalog.com/index.cfm?fa=p&pid=1046&sc=7542); went on easy, which is important when it's darn cold, and did the job in the loose snow.

    Wait wait...this is a gun list! Okay, i admit it, I only had a boring old J-Frame Taurus with me in the pocket of my SIGARMS concealed carry jacket, plus one speedloader of .38 JHPs. Not much, in retrospect.

    Michael B
     
  16. ECVMatt

    ECVMatt Member

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    Way to go Michael...

    I really did not think much of things like SHTF until I got stuck at USC during our Rodney Riots. I had a Glock and lots of mags, but no food, water, or clothing. That pretty much force me to flee insted of hole up.

    I now have a son who is handicapped. His condition forces us to drive up and down the state of CA. On these trips I always have food and water for 5 days. Sleeping bags for all and proper clothing to stay in the outdoors if needed.

    I also bring a rifle (usually a CA Friendly Mini-14) and a handgun (Glock 20 works well for me). I have not added chains or snow gear though. Most of my trips are from Redondo Beach to SF. It is possible that we would have to go over the Sierras to get home through the Owens Valley or to my other house near Victorville.

    I will have to get going on a better winter set up. Thanks for the great info and ideas to add to my bag of tricks.

    Matt
     
  17. tanksoldier

    tanksoldier Member

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    My wife's ML 500 has AWD, it's much better in the snow and ice than my F250... it has traction control and all the bells and whistles... the only problem is when the snow is too deep for it's ride height, which it was for a while.

    Funny thing is, she's not used to snow driving an dit makes her nervous, so I've been driving her to work in my truck.

    I usually keep a bugout kit in my truck that can handle just about any situation, and my wife's car has enough to get by for a while.
     
  18. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Member

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    +1 on the Blizzaks. My wife has them on her Jetta and loves to point out how I'm spinning in my Excursion where she is just motoring on. Of course I then point out that I paid for the Blizzaks . ..usually ends the discussion. :)

    Nice to read about your experiences. My kids always look at me like I'm an idiot when I force them to have hat/gloves/coats/boots, etc in their cars.

    Have a good one,
    Dave
     
  19. redneckdan

    redneckdan Member

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    i'm happy with the BFG ATS on my f-250. The detroit in teh back and a LS in the front works pretty well. The Lock/unlock in the rear on long sweeping turns under power gets annoying, but short of a full spool its one of the most bulletprooof set ups around.
     
  20. Smurfslayer

    Smurfslayer Member

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    :rolleyes:


    Other motorists will just take that high passenger capacity all weather assault vehicle from you and use it against you. :neener:


    Glad you made it home safe.
     
  21. Hemicuda

    Hemicuda member

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    I agree, equipment iswhere it is at... but disagree on the vehicle...

    I too have expensive snow tires on my vehicle... to the tune of almost 1000 dollars worth... they are made for snow...

    but they are also 35" tall, and on a lifted Dodge Ram 4x4

    the truck wears great brakes (they don't lock up, but they grab nicely)

    the truck is built, engine, trans, and axles. 325 horse at the wheels, waterproofed so snow doesn't effect it...

    snow chains (I carry 6, because you can easily throw one!) snap-straps, slings, tow-chains and cables, and 10,000 pounds worth of pull in a cradle-mounted winch, a pull-pal...

    I have spent some time in the Colorado high country (Alma/Fairplay/Como area) in snow, and even used it in a couple of recovery operations...

    Care to wager which one is a better snow vehicle, your Hondas and Super Boo-Boo's, or my Ram?

    Equipment is where it's at! and AWD does NOT replace 4 wheel drive!
     
  22. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

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    Oh and here we go with the pissing match.

    Trucks and guns... it's usually the operator not the tool.
     
  23. tinygnat219

    tinygnat219 Member

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    Care to wager which one is a better snow vehicle, your Hondas and Super Boo-Boo's, or my Ram?

    Equipment is where it's at! and AWD does NOT replace 4 wheel drive!


    :barf:
    Sorry, gotta disagree here.
    Equipment is a factor if the operator is semi-skilled and knows how to use it.
    Your Super-Dooper Bigfoot might be the Fo-Shizzle in the snow. However, if you don't know how to use it, that Honda just might pull out of the Snowbank. So no need to blast those with cars and vehicles that do the jobs 95% of the year.

    I have a Mazda Tribute with decent tires, it's Front Wheel Drive only. I have driven past many a Fo-Shizzle Bigfoot SUV stuck in the snow because I know how to drive in it and the idiots in the stuck trucks didn't.

    Also, there's one situation where equipment means nothing: Ice. I have seen tracked vehicles weighing 65 tons and more struggle and slide around. If you can't get traction, there's nothing you can do but spin wheels and look silly doing so whether its a Fo-Shizzle Bigfoot, or Honda Civic.

    TJ
     
  24. skidooman

    skidooman Member

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    i just recently got rid of my 04 Subaru WRX, i had extremely summer, super duper highspeed lo-pro tires on it, and still never had a problem, AWD is great, and extremely easy to keep under control, never once had a problem and was very confident in it, however i just traded it on a brand new Dodge 2500 with a Cummins, its still completely stock with the factory BFG tires. it does better in the snow than i thought it would. takes more attention and i guess skill to drive than the Subie but isnt too bad. and doesnt have the clearance problem should the snow get too deep.
     
  25. Dravur

    Dravur Member

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    hmmmmmm....

    My Ford F-150 didnt flip up on its top and burst into flames.... My 4 wheel drive worked great and I wasnt struck dead by the Fickle-Finger of Fate. I was driving around Longmont the night of the storm with no problem. So, some of us SUV/Pickup drivers CAN actually drive on snow.

    Truthfully, I saw alot more cars off the road than SUVs. It really only matters if you know how to drive in this weather. Being raised in Montana helped alot. I learned to drive in blizzards worse than this and that was in June hehe.

    So, everyone can get the heck off the backs up pickup and SUV drivers. Oh, and next storm, stay the heck out of my way! I got places to go.

    If you are jealous of us Pickup Driver's, head to your Ford or Dodge dealer and grow some ba...

    In the meantime, I will continue to drive my truck, well, and in the snow. And if I happen to drive over your speedbump shaped car buried in the snow, so be it.
     
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