Snow chains for Vancouver, BC this weekend?
January 31, 2017 7:07 AM   Subscribe

We have a new 2016 Camry (which I think is FWD), and we're driving from Seattle to Vancouver, BC this weekend. Weather Underground is forecasting snow Fri-Mon (0-4 celsius, 33-40 fahrenheit, 1-2 inches/day). Will we need chains?

We should probably get a set of snow chains just to have, but I'm wondering about what to expect this trip in particular. Are the roads generally salted/kept clear? In city, and to/from the border. We'll be staying downtown, maybe going to Burnaby and parts south (not north).

Also, if anyone has recommendations for a particular brand of chains, that'd be appreciated.
posted by Gorgik to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (13 answers total)
By "FWD" do you mean "Four Wheel Drive" (usually abbreviated to 4WD) or "Front Wheel Drive"?
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:12 AM on January 31, 2017

Yes, your Camry is FWD (front wheel drive.) Does it have traction control?

I can't speak for that area, but, where I live, that little snow and those temps would not call for chains. Snow tires, perhaps, but definitely not chains (and we have crappy snow removal here.)
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure about the mountainy parts of the I5 south of Bellingham, but on the Canadian side you won't need chains unless you have plans to go up to the mountains (Whistler, etc). I'm actually surprised they're calling for snow; and I'd be surprised if any actually sticks. If it does stick traffic will be horrible for not for chain-related reasons, more vancouverites-cant-drive-in-snow and busses-get-stuck related reasons. I'd assume the roads will be wet, maybe some black ice in the morning, but definitely no need for chains. Downtown especially will get less snow than areas further east. I've lived here my entire life and the only time i've wished i had chains was a month ago in our once-a-decade snowmageddon. But still I made do with my crappy all-seasons.
posted by cgg at 7:23 AM on January 31, 2017

Only Hwy 99 up to Whistler is designated as a road where you'd have to carry chains. See here for chain carry highways. No chains are required for Vancouver or between Vancouver and the US border. Heck, it would be a miracle to see snow on those roads much less need chains.

Maybe you'll need chains on the US side but I doubt it.

As far as chains go I recently bought a set of these chains. They're supposed to be self-tightening but I haven't got to use them yet.
posted by GuyZero at 7:26 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nobody in Vancouver uses snow chains in the city. I am not actually certain it is legal to regularly use chains on city streets -- though I am also not certain it is not. Even on chain-carry highways like the roads up to Whistler, only commercial vehicles are required to carry chains. Passenger vehicles are only required to have winter tires.

Relatively few Vancouverites even have winter tires, though most of them probably should. They are not required by the government, however, unlike in other areas of the province.

Vancouver will keep major streets clear. Side streets will not be kept clear, but 1-2 inches a day of snow will not accumulate to a huge level anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:29 AM on January 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Okay, I looked it up -- Vancouver does allow the use of chains on city streets. (Bylaw 2849 s91(1)(d))

It's still basically unheard of, however.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:33 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nobody has them. Salting and clearing of roads this season has been the subject of a lot of public outcry, because the city has done a pretty lousy job of it so far, with the main roads getting done relatively soon after snowfall but the side streets and public walkways being left pretty much for nature to take care of. People aren't very experienced with driving in these conditions and buses aren't equipped well to handle icy streets, so the biggest risk is other drivers, IMO.
posted by gateau at 9:14 AM on January 31, 2017

If you're not sure if it's front wheel drive, how will you know which tires to put the chains on if you need them?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:57 AM on January 31, 2017


Seriously, simple answer is no, absolutely not, no, never.
posted by Cosine at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The forecast is for temps above freezing and an inch or less of snow mixed in with rain. I can't imagine any realistic scenario where chains would be anything but annoying in Vancouver this weekend.
posted by N-stoff at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2017

No. you won't be going over any mountain passes between Seattle and Vancouver, those are the places where chains are required.
Also, calling for snow in this instance means there will be snowflakes in the air rather than raindrops, this is not to be confused with an accumulation of lowland snow, which is very unlikely (it's supposed to be 40F).
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:09 PM on January 31, 2017

Definitely no chains. Definitely.
posted by Capri at 10:54 PM on January 31, 2017

Response by poster: Got it. Thanks all!
posted by Gorgik at 5:54 AM on February 1, 2017

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