Help us survive our first family snowy winter in a mountain home
October 17, 2019 11:19 AM   Subscribe

We have just relocated from a relatively warm place (SF Bay Area) to what will be a long cold snowy winter location (Park City, UT). What are your top tips for surviving snowy winters with kids / things we wouldn't otherwise think to prepare or do as a family?

We've been in cold places before on vacations - but never more than a week or two at a time - and there is a big difference in staying in an AirBNB / Hotel for a week to ski from actually "living" here.

We have a ton of new winter clothing, and we are going through "winterization" type checklists for home and cars to make sure the big items are done. But are there things you couldn't survive winter without? Things they never tell you on winter checklists, which the wise mountain people of Metafilter do? Things that will help the kids prepare/survive with their sanity? Especially interested in things we should do before the first real snow falls occur (we've had a few flurries already and expect few more later this weekend).

Any advice gratefully received.
posted by inflatablekiwi to Home & Garden (48 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Research how some folks in Scandinavian countries keep their homes feeling cozy during winter: hygge (Denmark/Norway) and lagom (Sweden) are two words that bring up a ton of books and search results, especially on Pinterest.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:27 AM on October 17, 2019


You're going to need so many more clothes. Multiple jackets, hats, gloves, etc. So you'll need somewhere to store and organize all this stuff.

Boots take up a lot of room! Also boots get wet so you'll need some space where they can dry out.

Don't track snow into your house! a little bit of water can make a lot of soggy socks. That said, this is like trying to keep sand out of a beach house, kind of impossible.

Bay Area homes tend not to have distinct "landing pads" or mudrooms, but you'll definitely need one. The good news is that everyone in the US northeast has this kind of setup so it's easy to find tips, organizers, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


Find out from your neighbors what type of power outages are typical for the area and prepare accordingly. If you are likely to have outrages and have an electric stove, figure out how you'll safely feed yourselves. Remember CO2 issues if you use a camp stove or the like.

Your outside faucets will get destroyed and/or lead to pipes inside breaking if you don't properly drain and protect them.

Consider trying the sunrise simulating alarm clocks (or get programmable lights that can to the same thing).

Get something the kids can use to burn off energy inside when the outside is inhospitable.
posted by Candleman at 11:36 AM on October 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Replace your furnace air filter when you move in. Replace it at minimum every two years.

A kiddie snow shovel or extending snow shovel in the back of the car is a Very Good Idea, as you will be snowed OUT of your driveway as often as you will be snowed IN. Also for the car, have some kitty litter or scraps of cardboard for traction, and an old blanket or emergency blanket, in case you have to wait in your cold car for a while.

Also, have at least two kinds of snow shovels for the house: a broad, pusher-type shovel, and a square coal-bin type shovel. Having a kiddie snow shovel allows for a wider distribution of labour, and gets kids working off that cabin fever energy.

Buy rock salt before you need it. They will stop selling rock salt before the end of winter. Have a small pail of it by the door so you don't need to go to the big bag each time you need it. Buy antifreeze whenever it goes on sale -- you will need it well after the snow melts.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:47 AM on October 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


Seconding the mud room, or a large enough space by the door for putting outer layers on/off and storing them. Include chairs or a bench for boot removal. Remember to head to the door 5 minutes before you need to leave the house, so you have time to put your outer layers on.
posted by penguin pie at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


We have a rubber mat by the door where boots go to prevent getting water on the carpet. If you have a door that opens to a non-carpeted area, definitely use that as your primary entrance as that's easier to keep clean/dry.

You'll see it snowing and think that you'll want to wait until it's done to shovel. DON'T. Shoveling snow can be backbreaking labor. People have literally died from heart attacks shoveling snow. Shovel while it's snowing and again after it's done. Yes, it's twice the work in a sense but the labor is greatly reduced.
posted by acidnova at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


Are you going to be shoveling your driveway or using a blower/thrower. I have no experience with blowers/throwers but make sure your shovel is good. The ones with bent handles are good for ergonomics and avoiding back strain but aren't as effective at being jammed into some hard snow or ice. For the actual scoop part of the shovel it shouldn't have any give on it anywhere.

Honestly I've had the best overall experience with just an old school metal scoop as that lasted probably a solid decade until rust did it in. Since then I had one with a plastic scoop with metal reinforcements which was pretty good until the metal part came off, and then the replacement I got for it which has a nice handle but is total crap because the scoop deforms any time it tries to bite into the snow. Metal scoops will be heavier than plastic ones so you'll need to see what works for you. Also, give yourself plenty of time to shovel so that you don't over-exert yourself and injure something.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:54 AM on October 17, 2019


Also, my dad has us kids trained from a young age how to get in the car with snowy boots: Sit butt first with feet still outside. Click heels together a few times to get as much snow off the boots as possible. Then bring feet into car. Saves you from cleaning the car carpet as often, too!
posted by acidnova at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2019 [13 favorites]


Do you have a humidifier? Many HVAC systems have them built in now a days, but if you don't figure out how you're going to humidify your house. This was the biggest shock for me moving to a cold climate. I spend the summers trying to decrease humidity & the winters trying to get the moisture back in the air.

Definitely set up a mudroom area. Be prepared to need more than one type of winter coat, for everything from it's a bit chilly to blizzard. I learned the heard way too thick a coat leads to you sweating which is horrible if it's cold. Also gloves & hats in various thicknesses & uses from dress to path shoveling. If you have kids keep spare gloves & hats in the car. Teach your kids to stamp their feet & shake off snow before coming in the house.

Do you know how to drive on snow & ice? You might at least want to watch some videos for what to do if you don't or even look at a winter driving course if you're the nervous sort like me.

Shovel paths before the snow get's too deep if possible, you'll see people out in falling snow shoveling. Better shoveling lots of little loads of snow than one big load.

Do you have any sensitive plants in your garden that might need covering up for the winter with leaves to protect them. You aren't trying to keep them warm so much but to protect & insulate them them from thawing & refreezing & thawing in spring which will kill them. Terracotta pots can crack & shatter from the cold so bring them in.
posted by wwax at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2019


If you don't already have a winter outdoor activity that you love...experiment this winter and find one! There's nothing worse than being stuck indoors all winter. Whether its skiing or snowshoeing, pond hockey or building snow castles, XC skiing or skijoring, you'll be so much happier and healthier if you embrace the winter weather and find a way to enjoy it.
posted by Gray Duck at 12:03 PM on October 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Shovel and traction aids in the trunk. Lip balm for everyone. Pocket warmers if you expect to spend a couple hours outside.
posted by ddaavviidd at 12:03 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


One key to my sanity is redundancy of winter gear: multiple hats, multiple sets of mittens, multiple snowsuits. One set stays at school, (at least) one set at home. This means that if one set is soaked, there's another set available. I create a mudroom inside my backdoor by spreading out a million towels so snow is not tracked over the house and snow gear immediately starts drying.

I also have toys that are only available on snow days, i.e., the snow day blocks, etc. The novelty helps make looong days indoors go (slightly) better. I always plan a baking project for snow days.

I agree with nightrecordings that embracing hygge helps too. Hot chocolate, cookies, fire, blankets, pillow forts.

Also, sometimes just bundling everyone up and going for a walk around the block burns energy and helps keep spirits up.
posted by papergirl at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2019


Cabin Fever and the Winter Blahs are real things. You will need to fight them off at some point. You don't need to catch a plane, though -- trips to places where it's jungle hot (a zoo, a botanical conservatory, an indoor waterpark) will help you greatly. Buying plants or early-blooming flowers for in the house also helps.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh! I was once getting about in Estonia with my scarf flung loosely around my neck, on top of my coat, in a -20C winter, when my Estonian friend tutted heartily at me and said: “You need an Estonian grandmother to teach you how to wrap your scarf, your neck is going to freeze.” And she reached up and, with brisk expert hands, taught me what her grandmother had taught her.

I was just putting my scarf on the same way this morning (21 years later!) thinking how she’d bequeathed me a real lesson for a lifetime. So - let me be your Estonian grandmother.

Scarf goes on before coat. Does a full loop around the neck, so the two ends, equal length, hang down your front. Then cross the ends in front of your neck, covering the bottom edge of the scarf loop, so there is no gap in front of your neck at all (indeed, if you’re doing it right, it’s by now wrapped 2 or 3 layers deep at the front of your neck). The scarf ends then sit flat on your chest and your coat goes on over the top, fastened up as high as the scarf will allow. Toasty.
posted by penguin pie at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


The shovelling advice is good above, you'd do well to heed it. You're going to want to get things cleared a bit before the road plows come. Try to deal with ice build up before it gets too thick. Also make yourself familiar with the local laws regarding snow and ice clearing as there can be fines associated with this if you don't do it in a timely fashion. Municipalities sometimes have different rules for garbage & recycling collection in winter months.

In terms of clothing - layering is going to be the best. For kids it is best to have a couple pairs of outdoor wear as it can sometimes take forever to dry satisfactorily for use the next day. Redundancy is important in winter gear even for adults.

Learn to like being outside in the winter. I think it is awesome but a lot of people, even here in snowy Canada, retreat and refuse to go out. I think this often makes the winters even more depressing and longer. Walks in the winter can be great. Especially if it is sunny. Take advantage of the sunny days! If you're a sporty type look at local winter sport rep leagues and the like for you and the family.

Feed the birds. Their chirps always brighten my days in the morning.

Get one of those alarm clocks that have a light incorporated into them. The dark mornings are a drag to get up in and the brightness of the clock helps. We use these heating mattress covers that are electric, they are sort of like an electric blanket for your mattress, that you put your sheets over. We turn them on a few hours before we go to bed so that when we crawl into bed it is toasty warm. I usually turn my side off then but my partner usually leaves her's side of the bed on (yeah get the ones that have dual controls - it is awesome). They often have an 8 or 6 hour automatic shut off time. We sometimes put our pyjamas under the blankets so they get warm too.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:17 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


If you have a car, get your car detailed every spring to make sure you get salt residue off the undercarriage. It's very corrosive if you leave it on there. Also, look into your chains situation and ask your neighbors if you're likely to need them.

Include cold weather stuff in your home and car emergency kits (space blankets, instant hot pads, extra calories.)

If you're moving from the Bay Area you're used to having a single wardrobe. You will now need a Winter Clothes and a Summer Clothes wardrobe; it takes time to build up and what you need will be individually variable. One thing that I did not expect is that I am more likely to sweat through shirts in the summer, and more likely to get my pants wet in snow/rain in the winter, requiring more of both in each season.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Think realistically about how you'll handle snow removal. If you don't think you can do it on your own without making yourself miserable, get set up with a plowing contract NOW.
posted by metasarah at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


many years ago right here on askme jessamyn introduced me to the glory of heated mattress pads and now i am an evangelist. they are so good. SO GOOD.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


The biggest thing is to realize you and your kids aren't trapped inside until spring. Kids can play outside in the snow just as well as in non-snow, or maybe better -- if your snow is dry and fluffy, as I'd expect for Park City, it's a built-in cushion, and if your snow is more wet and sticky (like the northeast snow I grew up with), you can build things with it.
posted by janell at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, the more time you spend outside in the winter the more you'll get used to it and the less cold you'll be. By the end of winter you'll be wearing a light jacket when under identical conditions in the beginning of winter you'd be totally bundled up. So spend as much of November and December outside as you can and the rest of the winter will feel better. This isn't true for all people but it is worth trying out in your first winter to see how you all fare.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Lots of winter places have a shoes-off-inside culture; mine (Alaska) does and it makes it a lot easier to keep things clean. Yes to boot trays as well.

My most used winter layer is a thin merino wool buff (well- buffs, I have several) that can work as a hat under a bike helmet, as a facemask if needed, as a headband over the ears (that could then go under a hat on a ridiculous day).

I came here to say what Gray Duck did; it is so easy to fall into the trap of inside-ness and, ah, spiraling depression and I can really tell how long an Outside import is going to last up here by seeing how willing they are to go outside in the winter. My thing is skijoring and winter biking (even in the dark, we have trails and they make REALLY good lights now), and I'm much happier when I'm making a point to leave the house at least a couple times a week. Try a bunch of stuff, learn how to dress (almost any weather is possible with the right clothes, promise), and make sure your kids are getting outside and picking up skills too (I'm still angry my parents didn't make me learn how to cross-country ski when the learning curve would have been so much easier- plus, group lessons are a good way to build community someplace new).
posted by charmedimsure at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I have no personal knowledge of this, but it looks so cozy I would definitely check it out if I lived in a Land of Perpetual Winter.
The kotatsu culture, as explained by Chika of Japanagos.
posted by TrishaU at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2019


Have an emergency kit in your car. A lot of people underdress for winter during a "common" trip. E.g. during the heart of winter I'll drive to work in my flip flops, jeans, t-shirt and a flannel shirt. You might not be this weather hardy for your first winter, but you might do dress shoes, and a light coat for instance.

In my car I have boots, socks, gloves, balaclava, thick hoodie and a coat. Additionally there's a foil thermal blanket, normal blanket and mini shovel, and some other misc. items, all carefully stuffed into a duffel bag that I usually keep in the back seat, rather than the trunk for easier access within the car.

During the winter, the times that you're most likely to lose control and end up off the road, or hit temperatures so low that your car won't start, and the same times this happens to everyone else. And suddenly getting aid will take near infinitely longer than it "should."

Definitely note Candleman's advice about outdoor faucets. Sadly, I let the same pipe/faucet freeze/burst 2, if not 3 times upon moving to our current house.

In addition to shovels for snow, make sure you have a standard 4-6" garden hoe. The blade should point down, in the direction of the handle (I.E. not have a 90 degree bend). This is used for chipping/lifting/scraping ice off of the driveway/sidewalk. Freezing rain / ice storms are horrible. Additionally melting snow during a warm day can make puddles that then freeze solid and smooth over night.

You have an ice scraper and snow brush for each car? Great, get an extra snow brush for the front hall/garage if you want to clear off your car (before shoveling) without having to bother to get in your car. Also, after someone on mefi pointed out how much greater brass ice scrapers are than plastic ones, I've never been without a brass one. Go for one 2-3 inches wide - I have a wider one, but it's less effective because it spreads the force too far, and can't get ice off of the outside mirrors.

I really like having a magic bag (rice or lentils in a cloth bag that one heats in the microwave) before bed. My wife sleeps with it against her back; I sleep with mine either clutched by an arm pit, or between my thighs.
posted by nobeagle at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's can be tough to know when the roads are going to be bad for at least a few days, so make sure you have enough food in case you can't get to the store.

I'm a big fan of cowls instead of scarves, since they don't come untied.

Experiment to determine preferences for mittens versus gloves. I have read that mittens are warmer, and I prefer them. Kids will lose all snow gear, so have extra.

I have never had frostbite in my life, but it's good to know how to deal with it, especially since lots of people think you should rub snow on the skin (don't!).

When my kids lived at home, I always made cinnamon rolls on snow days.
posted by FencingGal at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Awesome. All great ideas - will have to dig through them all tonight. Who knew there was a dark art to putting your scarf on! I just yelled out to Mrs Inflatablekiwi that we'd been putting our scarves on wrong for years.... I have a long scarf from a Latvia trip many years back I'll have to practice with.

We are good on the mud room (we have a large heated one with bench, shelves for shoes, coat racks, non-slip flooring etc). But added boot warmer/dryer to my list (saw them last night at Home Depot I think - almost got one but had a full cart as is)

On the snow front it's been one of my biggest worries. Got a couple of snow shovels and car scrapers / brushes last night. Great idea on the kids shovels - back out to the shops tonight it is! We have already contracted with a snow removal company for our driveway (its a big, long, and uphill asphalt one - probably a solid 200-250 feet length so not something I envisage being able to easily clear myself even with a blower - it was literally the first non-utility service we signed up for when we got here - I am super paranoid about it). Will still get a snow blower - the snow removal company is really to get the bulk of it done on the "big dump" days. Was thinking of going with one of the newer large battery powered ones (something like this) with a couple spare batteries - if anyone has a thought on them? I'm paranoid about storing gasoline for a normal one - the previous owners helpfully left a bunch of full plastic containers of gas randomly in the garage where the kids could have gotten into them...

Luckily we have two fully enclosed garages (one internal to the house and a separate one by the main road) so we can park one car where only minimal snow blowing would be required to get to a (hopefully) mostly cleared road (HOA contracts to have that cleared - fingers crossed they do a good job...). Both cars are all wheel drive Subaru's so hoping we can deal with it 90% of the time with all the above. Have cables for one and will get cables for the other.

Good idea on checking the power situation. I have a camp cooker (will need to get some new canisters for it - thanks for the reminder) and we have a stone floor room with good external ventilation we could use for that with minimal fire/CO2 hazard in an emergency).

Great idea on "snow day toys". Surprisingly the local elementary mentioned they have only had like 3 snow day closures in the last 20 years and seem to be all setup pretty well even when its pounding down. But makes sense for tryly horrible winter days. We have a bunch of occupational therapy equipmet arriving soon when our movers final show - and we have enough space for an inside small bouncy castle at a pinch (we had one before for rainy days in the Bay). We'll be getting the kids out into the snow as much as possible (we have taken them snow shoeing before and plan on them getting lessons on skiing this year and being there as much as possible - given we are only 10 mins from Canyons and 20 from the main Park City Resort.

I think the clothes thing is something we'll have to see and probably a little trial and error - but good advice. My wife did a Target run the other day and came back with a zillion layers of winter clothes for everybody and we already had some decent gear from spending a few weeks a year in Tahoe to ski/board.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:40 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also- don't necessarily count on a lot of snow days! Places that have snow routinely, where it sticks through the whole winter, also know how do deal with it and folks are just expected to handle it (although the day after the first big snow is always a disaster- people forget how to drive over the summer, but then figure it out again quickly). In Anchorage, I can't think of the last time we had an actual snow day. Once every other year or so there will be a day or days when we get just the right amount of freezing rain on top of existing snow right at peak bus time and they'll cancel, but it's pretty infrequent.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:43 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Unless you have a heated garage, be sure to warm your car up first before driving anywhere.
posted by acidnova at 1:03 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


For mornings where there's no new snow on the car, but a nice layer of ice on the windows, get a cheap spray bottle and fill it with rubbing alcohol. It will melt right through the window ice. Unfortunately most of the stuff you can get at Target is diluted, so it will refreeze below some temperature - but at least it's no longer adhered to the glass!

(If you know any one in pharma that can get 70% Isopropyl alcohol, that shit does wonders!)
posted by notsnot at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Instead of jumper cables you might want to look into a portable battery that can boost your car. With jumper cables you're reliant on another car being around you can boost from, if you've got your own booster then you can just do it yourself.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you are nervous about snow so I would also guess that you are not so used to driving in the snow. Expect to drive through snow at some point. Several inches. It was common in my big Michigan town for the city plow budget to run out in January and have 8-12 more weeks of snowy winter where everyone just drove through it and almost ignored it.

Go to a big empty parking lot in the snow and practice what a hard brake looks like (not great!) how long your stopping distance is, what do when your car fishtails, etc.

Snowy and cold places means people just deal with it. Get used to it being a normal part of life
posted by raccoon409 at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


It may seem counterintuitive, but roads that only have a tiny layer of snow as opposed to those with a couple inches are more dangerous for driving because that sprinkling of snow is so much more slippery than the couple inches which can provide more traction.
posted by acidnova at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Snow removal companies may take longer than you expect, even when you have a time guarantee (like “cleared within four hours of snowfall ending”) just due to the nature of the business—everybody needs them at the same time.
posted by sallybrown at 1:43 PM on October 17, 2019


Pretty comfortable driving in snow (done enough to know the basic rules - don't drive if you can avoid it, avoid hills if possible, accelerate and brake way more gently, double or triple your stopping distances, etc.) It's more the waking up at 6am and finding a 2 feet deep x 250 foot long pile on the driveway that I'm worried about. It's a good point on snow removal being a surge service that everyone wants at the same time (and realizing they are point in time service so it may be snowing well after they come and clear your drive).

Are snow blades for rear hitches worth it? (we have a rear hitch on the Subaru Outback so we could in theory use it as a snow plow...but have never seen them in action...)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2019


Good thinking on the boot dryer - I was coming to suggest it. We bought ours for snowboarding boots and ended up using it all winter for everyday boots and gloves. We have it out and ready to use about 8 months of the year.
posted by hilaryjade at 3:03 PM on October 17, 2019


waking up at 6am and finding a 2 feet deep x 250 foot long pile on the driveway

Days like this, the schools will often operate on a 2 hour delay, to give the road crews time to get out and clear. And unless you are a critical employee of some kind, you'll call your workplace and say "I can't get out till they clear my driveway".
posted by shiny blue object at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2019


Get snow tires for your cars. They are safer for cold weather, and a lot less hassle than putting on and taking off snow chains in a blizzard.
posted by monotreme at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Your power is gonna go out at some point. Probably several times. Have a plan for heat (wood stoves or propane heaters), light (oil lamps are great!), cooking (gas stove or camp stove) and activities (board games, charades, books, etc)

If you have a wood stove, check with your neighbors about how much wood you'll need and get it asap to your woodshed.
posted by ananci at 6:21 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Water softner salt will do in a pinch, to get rid of ice when the local stores run out of the regular ice melting stuff.

Kids? Gloves/mitts? They get lost (the gloves).

New car battery if it's older than a few years.

Snowblower? Get a good gas one. You are fairly south there, so I'd expect wet snow which an electric snowblower won't like.

Tire pressure will suddenly drop the first cold night. And stay down until you fill them up again.

Always keep wiper fluid filled. Non-freezing type. Because semis will bury you under a mountain of slush on the interstate (assuming you use that route).
posted by baegucb at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have severe doubts as to whether the battery-operated snow blower is going to be even close to meeting your needs. Park City typically has a few 25+ inch snow falls annually and it's not unusual to see 30-inch, 40-inch, 50-inch, and even 60-inch snowfalls. Recent history here. That little battery-powered thing isn't going to stand a chance in those situations even if you have 20 spare batteries and even if you're just cleaning up a few bits and pieces around the yard and driveway after the snowplow service has come and gone.*

Read the negative reviews on it--for most snowblowers the negative reviews are like, I couldn't figure out how to put this together, the instructions are no good, etc. For the cordless snowblower they were far more along the lines of "We live in a place with a decent amount of snow and this thing had no chance of being able to keep up."

If you want to go electric, maybe look at corded models. 200-300 feet is a somewhat reasonable distance to wrangle a cord and the corded models are going to be like 5X more powerful than the cordless.

I'm not kidding. Typical corded snowblower is 14 amps * 110 volts = 440 watts. Whereas the cordless is 80 watts. So the corded model is 5.5X as powerful as the cordless.

Even more than that I would find out what kind of snowblower your neighbors have and like and then get that same exact model. If you can find someone with a cordless or corded electric blower **that they use and like** then great.

Similarly, go to local home improvement type stores **in your area** (ie, not down in the Salt Lake Valley or wherever), explain your circumstances and situation, and ask which snowblowers they recommend for your. Ask if there are any electric corded or cordless they recommend. You will see a coalescing of answers around a certain size, power, etc.

What you will find is that people who live in serious snowfall areas tend to have a snowblower that looks more like this.

That has a 357 cc engine which equates to roughly 8.2 kW which is 19X the power of the corded electric snowblower and 103X the power of the cordless.

I love electric, no emissions, etc etc etc more than anyone, but one reason we're still stuck with internal combustion engines for certain tasks is that no one has figured out how to economically get enough power where it's needed from electricity for certain tasks. Snowblowing being one of them. You could get a corded electric mower as powerful ass the 357 cc engine if you were willing to devote 19 15-amp circuits and 19 extension cords from your house to it alone.

You'll save more on emissions by having a tool that will actually get the job done right, quickly, and efficiently rather than purchasing and discarding several versions of an underpowered low emissions snow blower that will never be able to do the job.

One tip is going for a 4-stroke engine, which will have far fewer emissions than a 2-stroke. Your 4-stroke engines are likely to be higher powered and run better, as well.

As far as gas cans, just keep them on a high shelf. People without small kids tend to forget about basic things like that.

* Re: cleaning up after the snowplow, unfortunately the snow that's already been moved by the plow is much, much heavier and harder to move than the fresh snow. So when you're looking moving a few piles left here & there by the plow, or clearing out the mouth of your driveway where the city plow & your plow had a few disagreements about where the snow should be left, or clearing out the connection between your sidewalk and the driveway where your plowing service left a pile--that's exactly the heaviest and hardest stuff of all to move.
posted by flug at 8:33 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


If the snowfall there is as serious as flug says, then there is a real possibility you'll need to shovel snow off the roof at some point. The weight can be dangerous. Here's a resource I found with a quick googling.

This is not something I've ever experienced or done, but my dad told me a story once of when he was shoveling snow off the roof of my family's one-story home. This was before I was born. He was done and felt unsafe climbing the ladder down as it was perched on the icy driveway. So he decided to jump into a snow bank. He's 6'2" and the snow was up to his neck! He shouted for my mom who laughed, ran inside, and returned with the camera.

So lesson there is: safe ladder placement!
posted by acidnova at 9:12 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The small $40 - $60 for a premium snow and ice capable tire is a mild expense compared to the inconvenience the first time you slide off the road into a ditch; or worse. Eye out the other vehicles; if for example; lots of regular coupes and two doors are rolling on stuff like Yokohama Geolander AT/S type of tires; and it looks a little too 'buff' at first; but they end up sticking like glue in the snow and ice; yeah. Second set of four here in CO fwiw.

Lower / entry grade 'shell' pants like the Marmot Pre-cip line work wonders when put over regular slacks, jeans, fleece, lycra, or long underwear - very light, $50 on sale; rather tough, and enable outdoors activities year round.
posted by buzzman at 9:36 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Please don't shovel snow off your roof unless you have a reason to; it is incredibly dangerous and the benefits generally do not outweigh the risks. Building codes in snowy places are almost always such that roofs can structurally withstand normal amounts of snow for the area, and roofs are usually pitched in residential buildings such that it self-maintains to some effect if you get far more than usual amounts. If you are regularly getting ice dams or other problems because of poor attic insulation, or your interior doors start sticking (which can indicate the frames are getting distorted from untenable weight), get a professional looking at stuff.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:44 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I mistyped above. Please do not shovel snow off your roof. Period. If for some reason it needs to be done- it really likely won't, that is what building codes are for- hire someone licensed, bonded and insured with adequate safety equipment to do it for you.

Source: the ER doc in my household has seen a whole bunch of bad amateur roof-shoveling injuries but has never ever once treated someone whose roof collapsed because of snow load.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:51 PM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Mods can feel free to delete my suggestion above re: roof shoveling. That was based on what is evidently outdated information on my part. I have known people who have had issues with the weight of snow on their roofs (even as recent as a few years ago in Colorado) so I do think the OP should at least be aware that it can be a thing that can happen, even with a pitched roof. Just something to keep an eye on in intense, repeated snowfalls and accumulation in case they do need to have a professional look at it.
posted by acidnova at 11:56 PM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Don’t worry - the roof of this house is insanely high - not even thinking about shoveling off it - would be a total death trap. We just had a roofer come in and inspect the roof and make a few fixes for us as part of buying the house - so hoping I don’t have to do any thing with it all winter. We did talk to the previous owners and the roofer about the snow on the roof and neither thought it had/will be an issue with this house. Guess we’ll see.

First snow (just a dusting) happened last night so thanks all for the suggestions (and incredibly detailed description of snow blowers flug!). Am rushing a few suggestions to completion now......and will go with a gas powered snow blower (vroom vroom!)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:08 AM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I moved from Seattle (hardly any snow) to Tahoe (snowfalls of 3 feet were POSSIBLY a reason to cancel school). Three things that I finally did to embrace living in a frozen snowglobe for 9 months of the year. I survived 16 years in Tahoe and these little steps made my life so much more bearable.

1) This $50 shovel drew the envy of many of neighbors. Watch a couple of YouTube videos on how to master it and you'll be so happy. It literally does twice the work of any other shovel out there. I wrapped duct tape around the handles where I usually put my hands to help protect my hands from the metal even more. Buy it early in the season - it always sells out.

2) I drive an SUV, and once I bought a Costco snow broom / scraper thingie that had a thicker pole and extended reach, it literally changed my life. Why the hell was I dinking around with a snow scraper the length of my forearm when I could have spent $15 more and gotten one that could reach almost the entire length of my windshield AND my car roof? And you do know the trick of leaving your windshield wipers up before the snowstorm to keep them from being buried and to keep them from freezing to the windshield?

3) Clothing - essentials for dog walking or any kind of walking: Longer coats that went down to my knees for more coverage AND finally investing in a good pair of snow pants which I wore with leggings underneath for more warmth.
posted by HeyAllie at 7:33 AM on October 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Sounds like you are going to have SUCH a fun winter skiing and nesting in your new home! Congrats.

Miscellaneous tips that come to mind:

For clothing, it's more intuitive as someone from a mild climate to layer on top - undershirt, sweater, fleece, puffy/winter jacket, scarf...but don't forget layering on the bottom! Long underwear/leggings aren't just for skiing; you'll probably wear them almost everyday in the winter, as will your kids. (I wear actual underwear under mine so I can wear them for multiple days before washing.) Also, big thick cozy boot socks that go all the way up your shin, under your long underwear and pants, are way better than shorter thin socks.

Stock up on hot drinks - teas, hot chocolate, cider - and get excited to practice making hot soups and stews and other filling winter dishes. Might want to buy a crockpot!

Go out and turn the car on and let it warm up for 5 minutes before you want to leave.

Get everyone slippers (and cozy robes?) -- layering up inside helps keep you from cranking the heat (and your utility bill). Socks wear out if you wear them without shoes, and if you are comfortable inside with bare feet in the winter you might be keeping your house too warm. :)

A space heater in every bathroom helps too. I like the oil-filled portable radiators best. This is one room where you won't layer!

If you're into having fires and have a fireplace, get a cord of firewood delivered now. Teach the older kids how to carry in firewood and keep a fire going safely (or clear rules for not touching it, if they are under the age of 9 or 10).

Be prepared for dry skin and slather everyone's faces with a great moisturizer 2x a day; stock up on lip balm and coconut oil.

Go knock on doors with a plate of cookies and introduce yourself to all your neighbors. When nature is less friendly, knowing the people who can help (pull your car out of the ditch it slid into; jumpstart your car; shovel your driveway when you're out of town and your partner has the flu; etc.) is so important.
posted by amaire at 12:02 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Wow - thanks again for everyone's advice. Magic. I went a little "best answer" crazy.....

HeyAllie - no kidding about that sled shovel! I now own two (his and hers) :-) With some lubrication it absolutely screams through the snow (especially down hill where it is an almost unstoppable snow removal express). We got 4-5 inches Friday night and it took about 30 minutes to clear the entire drive way edge to edge by myself with it. I now have brand loyalty to my Garant sled shovel like I've owned it for years.....

Flug - my new Cub Cadet 3 stage gas snow blower arrived today. It's a monster. Thank for your wise words. I asked a few people about the electric snow blowers. The guy at Home depot summarized it well "The electric ones? Yeah we stock them for people who want to clear their back deck quickly. The battery ones if its a small deck."

Other accomplishments:
- Many more clothes and layers acquired
- Snow day toys/activities arranged
- Snow tire place found and happening soon
- Wood fireplace checked out, test fire light, and some wood acquired (more to come)
- Idiot sticks installed on driveway to stop me driving into things hidden in the snow
- Additional low temp wind shield wash acquired at volume
- Shoe/mitten dryers on order
- Faucet socks installed
- Kids know now how to snow shovel and love it

Lots more to do. But thanks everyone for the amazing advice. Anyway...back to choring......
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:08 PM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


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