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BEWARE BLOWING SNOW ON US-36 GOING OUT OF BOULDER. - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2007-01-08 03:55
  Subject:   BEWARE BLOWING SNOW ON US-36 GOING OUT OF BOULDER.
Public

I headed home from the usual Sunday night revelry about an hour ago. I got three (count them, *3*) blocks before my car foundered and became stuck, wheels spinning helplessly, in a thick blown-snow drift. I had to walk back up the hill in the cold and blowing snow and wake up my friend, to ask him if I could borrow a shovel.

Then, I had to spend half an hour hand-shoveling a 25x12' rectangle of hard-packed, heavy, crusty snow before I could even get my car back to the middle of the road. It was that icy and slippery out. I'd clear the snow out from under my tires and a few feet behind them, and all it would accomplish was to roll me back a few feet, and then slide right back down into the gutter, wheels spinning, car even more perpendicular to the road. (This is even less fun than it sounds when you add in the fact that it was 2:30 am and the snow was still blowing all over me as I dug.)


Those of you heading out of Boulder for your morning commute tomorrow: Exercise extreme vigilance on Foothills Pkwy, and on US-36 between the Baseline exit and Louisville. These areas were not pretty as I came back into town. McCaslin south of 36 was not good either, but it was being plowed as I went past. And keep in mind that on Saturday, there was a 21 car pileup at the top of the hill on 36. Yes, RLY. In which the Crown Vic of someone whose LJ I read was totalled. As in, "it could not be driven away from the accident." This brings the count of cars owned by people I know that have been totalled by the snow this winter, up to two. I'd rather not see that count make it to three.


The previous two nearly snowless winters have made us stupid and complacent. But nature is not messing around this winter. Tomorrow, I am going out and buying a set of chains to throw in my trunk. If you don't have studded snow tires, I suggest similiar measures. At the very least, learn from my mistake and throw a shovel in your car until March.

Remember that while getting to work slowly in the morning is not optimal, it sure beats the living crap out of not getting to work at all tomorrow, nor for the whole rest of the week, because your car is stuck in a two-foot deep drift and even the tow truck can't get it out. Or, if you're really unlucky, your car might get totalled. You think it can't happen to you, but remember - two of my friends have already had their cars totalled this winter. Ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure, yes? Go slow if you need to, and ignore that California-born idiot behind you. (You'll be laughing like crazy when you pass his SUV sitting backwards in the ditch a quarter mile later.) Be ready for blowing snow conditions to blind you and reduce visibility to 20' feet or less at any point going up the hill on 36. Remember that blown snow is slippery as hell, and don't be afraid to take the slippery patches at 25.


Don't be complacent. Watch out every second. Have an extra cup of coffee this morning if that's what you need in order to wake up more. I don't want to be reading about how you wrecked your car on the drive in to work this morning. Been there twice already this winter. No more.
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dpcfmander
  User: dpcfmander
  Date: 2007-01-08 17:31 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Hmmm... now that I think about it, maybe I *do* like our snow-less winter here. ;]

With all the recent car expenses, maybe you should just save up for a more rugged automobile... there's a few AWD's on the market that don't suck as much gas the normal SUV that would take snow and pot holes better...
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tiger0range
  User: tiger0range
  Date: 2007-01-08 21:21 (UTC)
  Subject:   AWD is not...
All Wheel Turn
or All Wheel Stop

While a Subaru sucks less gas than an SUV, it still gulps it down. Pretty much the only advantage you will get is going uphill in heavy snow and a tiny bit of ground clearance. Most AWD cars (or mini utes) suck at absorbing pot holes as much as cars.

Most people in snowy regions know AWD isn't all it's cracked up to be.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
tiger0range
  User: tiger0range
  Date: 2007-01-10 18:52 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: AWD is not...
I'm not saying that there isn't a 4WD advantage. Heck, I've sold quite a few friends on Subarus... Even my brother. He bought a Forester Outback instead of a WRX like I was trying to get him to buy, which sucks, but anyway...

Getting unstuck, going uphill in snow, getting through slippery uneven terrain, etc. are all things that AWD is great for, especially at low speeds.

But turning in snow, or braking in snow, or keeping from getting stuck in the first place, well AWD doesn't give you that much of an advantage there, and most people's perception of snow driving stops at those activities.

As for FWD, I don't remember, but I think the 2.0 doesn't have E-diff does it? I know I hated the Toyota Celica in the snow because the open diff and torque steer used to make it wander all over the road if you weren't careful. My jetta isn't that bad in the snow because it torque steers a whole lot less and the e-diff keeps it from peg legging. I have never had that much of a hard time getting it unstuck even if the snow was a few inches above my ground clearance.

I think everyone probably knows this, but the trick I learned from family friends when I was young about how to get trucks unstuck from mud applies in all cases: You have to learn how to drive your car slower than a person walks. It's harder with an automatic (you have to left foot brake), but if you just barely crawl the tires at 0-5mph, you can usually pull out of moderately stuck situations (I am not talking about extreme snow drifts above your bumpers). Spinning the tires is never good.

BTW My brother decided against the WRX because he got scared of turbos after driving my car. I tried to convice him that ~220ft/lbs going through 3-4 tires is a whole lot more stable than ~260ft/lbs going through 1-2 (not to mention mine hits you like a sledgehammer while the WRX's slowly builds), but no go on that.

Anyway, I'm doing fine. Life's hard, but enjoyable. There are some major developments which I've been holding off on announcing for too long. I will try to make a livejournal post about it soon... Seeing how this reply took 20minutes, I should have time to do that at least.
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Not Matt: Zapp Brannigan
  User: jameshroberts
  Date: 2007-01-08 18:58 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:Zapp Brannigan
See, this is proof that the "global warming" crisis is just a hoax dreamed up by the Ivy-league-elitist-east-cost-left-wing-liberal-blame-America-first-
hippie-socialist-terrorist-appeasing-eco-nutcase-cut'n'run-Bush-bashing-
douchebag-freedom-hating-French-loving-defeatist Leftists for their own political advantage.

Clearly, the ONLY solution is to ramp up our consumption of fossil fuels in order to produce enough heat to survive the winter.

Never mind that our lemon tree is flowering in January.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-01-08 22:06 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I prefer not to say global warming, in favor of using the better phrase, "global climate change." I think it captures the recent screwy-weatherness a lot better. A couple of days ago, I heard someone from NJ complaining that it was 72 F (!!) there this weekend. Montana and some parts of Canada have been very brown this winter with almost none of the expected snow. Talking about global warming resonates with those people, but it sounds awfully hollow to Coloradans right now. (We don't have very long memories. We forget that the last 5 years have been a continuous drought, and that we had maybe 5-6 snows in the previous two winters combined!)

Hence, "global climate change." Some areas may get colder, some warmer. But whatever the case, the weather is gonna be freakin' weird, ese!
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Ohmi
  User: ohmisunao
  Date: 2007-01-08 20:30 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
ignore that California-born idiot behind you.

I was going to debunk this.. but then I remembered that Californians can't even drive well in RAIN let alone ice and blowing snow. I like being an exception to this though.. I've gotten a good taste of driving in Colorado winters.. it's difficult to say the least.

I'm sorry to hear you had to dig your car out at 2am.. that really sucks.
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-01-08 22:00 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I like being an exception to this though.. I've gotten a good taste of driving in Colorado winters..

I think "california born" was the wrong phrase. I should have said "learned to drive in California", since that's what counts here. Not where you were born - where you learned to drive.

I'm sorry to hear you had to dig your car out at 2am.. that really sucks.

In the bright light of the next morning, I can look back and laugh about it. I tend to enjoy these "extreme" experiences (after the fact, natch!) since they feel like interesting breaks from the monotony of my usual life. But I do try and learn from them, too. Improvising solutions on the fly is a good skill, but one that I need to not lean on too heavily lest I neglect the flip side of the coin, which is planning and careful pre-consideration of circumstances in light of experience.
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  User: jigenm4c
  Date: 2007-01-10 08:42 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
You're forgetting that half of the natives in Colorado still can't drive in the snow, and they've been here all their lives.

Having grown up in cities that have had major snow storms in the past 10 years, I can say that this has been advantageous to learning how to drive in the snow. Engine braking, handbrake turns, and distancing yourself from the idiot in front of you are all good techniques to use. It just sucks that people who drive in the snow suddenly panic, slam on their brakes, and wait for all chaos to ensue.

Sorry about the car fiasco.
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  User: nickhalfasleep
  Date: 2007-01-08 22:56 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
We keep a shovel (steel garden type) in the trunk of the car these days to dig out of the granular crap on side streets now. It's bastardly snow and will only get worse with another storm on Thursday / Friday.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-01-09 06:46 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: Thanks for the warning...
I can not recommend a Honda CRV with brand spanking new snow tires highly enough.

This is what my mom drives, and despite living 7 miles of dirt road above Lyons, she has so far managed to get to work every day for the last two months. So count me in on the CRV front, too.
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