Winter weather is coming – local drivers getting ready | NevadaAppeal.com

Winter weather is coming – local drivers getting ready

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
Derek Marlatt, assistant manager at Les Schwab Tire Center, changes a tire Monday afternoon at the South Carson City store. Proper tires are just one of the things experts remind drivers to be aware of for safe winter travel. Cathleen Allison/ Nevada Appeal
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With high winds, rain, possible snow flurries and temperatures dropping in Carson City’s near future, one concern is rampant: driving safely.

“It’s that time of year,” said NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder. “Our biggest advice when the weather starts to turn is when you’re driving and when there’s a little ice and snow on the ground, slow down.”

That’s it? Slow down?

“There’s all kinds of measures to take to ensure a safe trip,” Magruder said. “But, yeah, that’s the most important thing. You see four-wheel drives speeding along like they’re on dry roads. And the thing is, they don’t stop any faster than cars with two-wheel drive.

“People just need to use their judgment, not follow as closely – and exercise caution. It may take a little longer to get where you’re going – but in the end, it’s worth it.”

Last year’s relatively mild winter resulted in a fewer number of car-related fatalities, NDOT officials said, but with the “2007 Farmer’s Almanac” predicting an early, wet winter for the northern Sierra Nevada, “this definitely could be the time to get ready for a big year,” Magruder said.

In Carson this week, several local and chain tire companies were busy mitigating crowds re-fitting their rides with treads that can handle foul weather.

“People are getting ready, yes,” said South Carson Les Schwab manager Kirk Moser. “This is the time.”

Tim McCarville, owner of Carson Used Tire and Wheel said his customers, unlike patrons of the big tire chains, usually wait until after the first major storm to switch out their tires.

“Well, I haven’t noticed the big explosion in business yet – but we haven’t gotten the first big storm,” he said. “The smart ones switch tires in early September. The other ones, like me, we do it after the first big storm.”

Tire store managers said popular treads are of the “studless” variety – meaning the treads are all-weather and grip the ice and snow, without the steel studs that tend to chew up asphalt and make even the most hermetically sealed cab ring as loud as the inside of a jet engine.

“Those tires by Bridgestone and Michelin perform like studded tires,” McCarvile said. “They’re the latest thing and seem to work well.”

Local weather watcher Joe Childs said high winds may bring in bigger storms by the end of the week.

“We’re still waiting on the first big one,” said Childs, who volunteers for the National Weather Service as a “weather spotter.”

“The (weather service) doesn’t see things on their radar below eight or nine thousand feet – so that’s where we come in.”

As far as driving advice, Childs, a Carson resident of five years, said he simply “looks at the weather and adjusts speeds accordingly.”

NDOT’s Magruder was also quick to remind motorists that “roads are constructed and engineered for their safety.”

“Drivers need to go slow and watch for equipment,” he said. “If you get stuck or need to stop, you gotta be real careful if you’re on the shoulder. It’s not our place to say you need chains, but there are a lot of cases where you will. Pack an extra blanket and gloves; a bag of kitty litter (for traction) if you get stuck is a good idea.

“Many people carry water, a snow shovel and scraper – and an extra blanket.”

• Contact staff writer Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

Information

On the Net:

http://www.nevadadot.com/winter

Road conditions in Nevada and California:

511

DMV’s winter driving tips:

• Remove snow and ice from all vehicle windows, mirrors and lights prior to driving.

• Only travel in winter weather when absolutely necessary, and leave early to provide enough time to safely reach your destination.

• Slow down on winter roads.

• Speed limits are based on road and weather conditions.

• Keep a safe distance from other vehicles.

• Watch carefully for snow removal equipment.

• Use extra caution on bridges and ramps.