Arizonian Takes on the Slippery Sconnie Streets
January 13, 2021 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I moved from Arizona to Wisconsin about a year ago. How do I, a life-long desert-dweller, navigate these winter roads? Literal snowflakes inside.

Haboob on the horizon? No problem. 110 degree heat? Not an issue.

But, put me in a car in the middle of a Sconnie winter, and I am at a loss.

People who drive in snow or live in cold climates: How do you *do* it?

How do you prepare your car for the winter roads? And do you use anti-freeze or something? If so, what brand do you recommend? Also, what are your window-scraping techniques? Is it safe to drive with a bunch of snow on top of my car, if I don’t feel like clearing it all off? Should I be worried about my car battery dying suddenly? Should I put chains on my tires, or is that *too much*?

I feel like there are a million other questions I should ask, but I just don’t know what I need to know. Kindly tell your stories and give any advice for surviving the winter roads.

As a reference, I drive a 2019 Hyundai Accent, and I live in the Madison area. Thanks :)
posted by NewShoo to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Northern Canadian here. -40ºC is common where I live.

Clear off your snow, run your car, defrost your windows. Winter tires (not "all season") are a must. Block heater if the temperatures are really low. Don't worry about the battery. I have a stock battery chugging along just fine after 9 years.

Turn into the spin when you're sliding :-) Anti-lock brakes make things much easier than they used to be.

Window scraping is a pain in the butt. A nice plastic or wooden brush beats a metal one. Because we don't wear gloves :-). Get the expensive windshield wash fluid. Decent wipers, and defrost your car before driving with the heat on the windshield.

If you're going through freeze-thaw cycles, then pull your wipers off the windshield when not driving.
posted by MiG at 7:55 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

Hello, fellow Madtowner! I don't own a car, but I do drive (hello Zipcar), so I can answer at least some of these.

Is it safe to drive with a bunch of snow on top of my car, if I don’t feel like clearing it all off? NOOOOOOOOO, it is not safe, not safe at all! Sudden stop and suddenly that snow blankets your windshield. Ordinary driving, and it can slide off behind you onto the windshield of the car following you. Please, please, please brush as much as you can off!

Should I be worried about my car battery dying suddenly? In ordinary cold, if you're driving it at least once a week or so, no. In polar-vortex, well-below-zero cold, possibly. Once you've gotten the car started, though, you should be fine -- it won't suddenly cut out in the middle of a trip or anything.

Should I put chains on my tires? For city driving, usually no. (If we've just had a major dumper of a blizzard and you truly, madly, deeply have to get somewhere, maybe. But "don't go" is better advice.) Winter tires, however, are a good idea.
posted by humbug at 7:56 AM on January 13 [7 favorites]

Leave more time!

You need to adjust your expectation of how long it takes to get places to include slower driving, if needed by the road conditions, AND add about 15 minutes prep to clean and warm the car (maybe an extra 7 minutes if there hasn't been a snowfall). When I lived with -35 C weather, I found that road conditions were often pretty good RIGHT after a (small) fresh snow fall, crummy after a couple of hours of other drivers icing things up, and decent again once the plows and sanders had been by. So you learn the rhythms of the road conditions after a while.

Not mentioned yet: If a hill is icy, you need to go up the hill at a reasonable speed (or you won't make it). But you will want to go down the hill with control/caution. Going straight ahead on snowy/icy roads is generally fine. Turning and braking are the times when you want to be more cautious due to the lower road surface friction.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 8:05 AM on January 13 [10 favorites]

A nice plastic or wooden brush beats a metal one

And one with no moving parts. I've been suckered in by a brush/scraper with a telescoping handle a few times and they always manage to unscrew themselves and go floppy with a right-handed, backhand stroke. Don't do that to yourself.
posted by fountainofdoubt at 8:07 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

I live in upstate New York and don't use snow tires because it's a pain in the butt to switch them out twice a year. Instead, I minimize driving in bad weather... I stay home, walk, or take the bus whenever possible. Obviously this isn't possible for everyone, but I see lots of people who COULD go this route putting a lot of energy and stress into driving themselves around instead.
posted by metasarah at 8:07 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

If you can start your car and let it warm up ahead of having to use it, that helps a lot with the window scraping. If you are expecting snow/ice, leaving the windshield wipers off of the windshield (meaning angled up where they hinge) can make it easier too. I've never seen anyone using chains in an urban area.

It's a good idea to keep your gas tank full-ish during the winter, just in case you get stranded. Also having some blankets in the backseat, and a set of jumper cables. I also have a small car (Honda Fit), and I keep a little shovel in the car - because of the low clearance, light weight, and my need to street park, it's very easy for me to get plowed in/stuck.

As far as driving, just go slow. Try to line yourself up with the tire tracks in the lane, watch out when you need to get out of those tracks to change lanes or whatever, and don't worry about the other drivers speeding past you. You're doing fine. Leave extra time at lights and stop signs for other people sliding, and it might take you a bit longer to accelerate from a stop without skidding, just try to remain calm and take your time.

Everyone, no matter how long they've lived in a snowy place, needs to re-acclimate themselves to driving during the first snow/ice events. You'll get it after a few times. And, if at all possible, hunker down and stay in until the roads are clear.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 8:09 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Get decent all-weather floor mats that can hold the water and slush coming off of your feet.

WeatherTech mats are a splurge but they're also made for the exact measurements of your car's floorwells. They're made here in the midwest, too. There are lots of knockoffs or generic ones as well from any Walmart or Target or AutoZone but they should be sturdy rubber and have deep grooves to hold melting snow.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:17 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Car washes are a necessity, not a luxury, here. Road salt does a number on your car's undercarriage otherwise.

As when it's raining, turn your lights on (no high beams) when it's snowing.
posted by humbug at 8:24 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Tire chains are allowed in Wisconsin, but only when "required for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to skid." You wouldn't generally need them in a city, and certainly not on city roads after they have been cleared. I haven't seen anyone suggest them, but studded tires are not allowed on private vehicles in Wisconsin. They have little metal studs embedded in them, which helps on ice, but tears up the roads when they're not icy.

Note that "winter tires", "all-season tires", and "summer/performance tires", refer to the design of the tread and composition of the rubber, which will affect how well they grip. Rubber (like all materials) gets softer when warm and harder when cold. Softer tires grip better, but being softer, wear out sooner. Winter tires are designed to stay softer in the cold, so you get better grip, but they will be too soft when it warms up in the summer, and will wear out very quickly. All-season tires are a compromise that between winter and summer. Summer tires are designed for only warm weather, and will not work well in the cold at all. If you bought your car in Arizona, make sure that you don't have summer tires on your car.
posted by yuwtze at 8:29 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Whenever people ask this advice, the answers are always the same. Snow tires, tire chains, etc.

I firmly disagree with that advice. The majority of driving in the winter is changing HOW you drive, not WHAT you drive. Driving in the snow takes some practice, because during dangerous conditions, your car just behaves differently. Stopping takes a lot longer, and if you do it wrong, you slide into an intersection in a dangerous way. Sometimes your tires will stop working, and then you just start to spin. It's important to know what to do in those situations.

The biggest thing to do, is to get into an empty, icy parking lot, and practice. Accelerate quickly, brake hard, and feel yourself spin in place. Get a feel for your tires spinning on the ice.

90%+ of drivers in wisconsin and the midwest just use old season tires, and drive accounting for the bad weather.

Last, realistically, unless it is CURRENTLY snowing, 90%+ of the time, the roads are cleared and salted, and you can drive pretty typically. When the road is "dry" (plowed, salted, and yes, dry looking) it is pretty identical to normal roads. You have to be ready for crashes or backups a bit more often, but 9 days out of 10, the driving is no different.

Hope that helps!
posted by bbqturtle at 8:43 AM on January 13 [14 favorites]

I went to school in Wisconsin for 7 years, and fortunately, in my experience, the city of Madison itself is pretty good about plowing, and it's relatively flat. Coming from Western Washington, where it only snows once in a while but there's lots of hills and little snowplow capacity, I actually felt much, much safer driving around Madison.

Though mind you once you get onto side streets and out of the city centers, you're going to need to be more careful.

Just remember it may take you a good long while to stop if there's snow and do everything nice and gradually. And avoid the one or two streets that actually have much of a grade to them. The two times I felt near losing control of my vehicle was when I accelerated too much into a turn. So take it real easy when taking left turns at stoplights, for instance.

The worst days, honestly, weren't the cold ones. It was the ones where the temperature was hovering around near freezing and stuff melt and refroze. So if there's actual sheets of ice on the ground, be extra careful. Though poorly shoveled sidewalks were more treacherous than the main roads which tended to be salted and plowed. One time I ended up on the gradual slope of a driveway cutout with no traction for my boots and had no choice but to very slowly slide into the street, looking quite silly I imagine.

So yeah, ice is the big thing to worry about, which means the beginning and end of winter are going to be the times when you have the most to worry, not in the middle when it's just cold.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:44 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

I moved from the South to near Chicago; my experience may or may not be useful to you depending on how far into a city you are living. My experience with Chicago (and Ithaca NY) was that streets were salted/cleared relatively rapidly and that cleared streets were fine for driving. I tried to avoid driving during an active snow, but if I had to, I drove very very very slowly. Transitions from cleared roads to non-cleared roads were iffy and you had to be careful. If you look at my question history there was some advice.

Rubber mats or your car's carpet will be destroyed.

If you park outside: I had a long-handled scraper which was very useful. I was a big fan of Snobrum. I never quite got comfortable back-and-forthing my car out of a pile of snow so I put a snow shovel in my trunk as well, so I could dig snow out from around my tires.

If you are coming from warmer climes your car's windshield cleaner tank may simply be filled with water or soapy water. You want the stuff that works at super low temperatures, or your lines will freeze and you won't be able to clear salt from the windshield until it gets above freezing or you find a heated garage.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:46 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

1. Snow tires, usually on a spare set of (cheap, steel) wheels, so you just swap out all the wheels when winter rolls around.
2. They make washer fluid that will stay liquid down to various low temperatures. That’s what you need, and you’ll use a lot of it.
3. Get you one of those long-handled combination scrubber/brush things. Helps ice scraping, and makes knocking off the piled-up snow easy.
4. Consider staying on “main” roads when you can. Smaller side roads may not get cleared as often, and without as much traffic you’re more likely to get surprise ice.
5. Your battery will fail at night when it’s snowing or raining, because that’s when it’s least convenient for batteries to fail (and when they’re loaded more). This is not peculiar to Wisconsin, though.

6. Shovel your sidewalk and driveway as soon as you can, while the snow is fluffy and before it recrystallizes. This makes it easier to keep it clear.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:49 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

PLEASE clear off all of the snow from your car before putting it in motion - it's so dangerous to yourself and other drivers to drive with snow on your car! Be lazy about others things, but not this!!!

When people say "turn into the skid", I never knew what that meant until I actually practiced it. (It means turn the wheel to where the back of the car is going). It becomes more intuitive if you do it a few times. So my advice would be to find an empty parking lot after a snow and practice braking and skidding safely and with control.

Also, it still freaks me out when I slam on the brakes in an urgent need to stop and the ABS makes the brake pedal grind and vibrate under my foot. This is apparently supposed to happen, dont take your foot off in panic. But the best way to not freak out is to not need to brake suddenly at all - meaning leave way more room than you need to to the cars in front of you, anticipate the stop and start slowing early by taking your foot off the gas, etc.

Honestly, my biggest problem with winter driving these days is OTHER DRIVERS. Most people don't practice safer, more cautious driving in bad conditions. They might slow a little, but not enough. They might leave a little more space, but not enough. So my advice is also just pay attention to what others near you are doing and anticipate any issues like someone else stopping suddenly. And don't feel pressured to speed up or drive more recklessly because other people are.
posted by carlypennylane at 8:49 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]

I grew up in Appleton and now live in Chicago, driving similar sized cars to yours. You don't need snow tires or chains (!). Accelerate and brake more slowly. Leave lots of room in front of you. Don't drive in blizzard conditions. Remote start is your friend. I hate scraping my windshield (especially when it's that really thin layer that's impossible to get off) so I 100% sit in my car with the defroster running for like, 15 minutes while the ice melts. Snow you do have to brush off, there's no way around that one.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:09 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Hi - welcome to midwest winters. Besides driving, pick your outdoor cold activity - skating, sledding, skiing, ice fishing, etc - it makes winter more fun.

A step by step walk through how to start your car:
1. Start by starting your car and putting the defroster on high heat for both the front windows and the rear. This will start the snow or ice melt and help you with the process.
2. Now access what you need to scrape off (and put on your gloves - what is going on gloveless people?)
If it is snow, use the brush part of your tool (you can get these at any car parts place or often a walgreens) to clear off as much snow as possible off the car. Start at the roof and brush it down and off the car, next do the windows, your side mirrors, your front windshield and the front of your car (including your lights), I end with the back because the defroster is usually the most helpful here. If there is over 6 inches, you may also want to kick the snow out from behind the tires.
If it is ice, use the scraper part of your tool to scrape off as much ice as possible on both the front and back windshields. Also do your side mirrors if they have ice and the front drivers and passenger windows. Be very careful around the windshield wipers, try to pull them up gently and then once they come up scrape that area.

You should be able to drive now. Start by pulling out slowly and then testing your breaks - this will tell you how much slower they are breaking and let you know how much slower you should drive. When it is snowing NEVER go above the speed limit and you may have to go under depending on how much it is snowing. I will write more about this if I get the chance.

When you park, get out of the car and put your windshield wipers up and off the glass so they don't get stuck, kick the snow out from behind your tires, and put your snow brush tool on the drivers side back passenger door (not in the trunk).
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 9:15 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]

All-season tires make a lot of compromises. Get good snow tires. Then as long as you're going to have 2 sets of tires, you might as well get summer tires when the non-snow tires need replacement, because they're way better in rain.

Cold weather will kill a weak battery; mine has been a pain because I drive so seldom right now; replacing it today. A reasonably healthy battery that started yesterday should be fine, though as the temp goes down below zero, it will get sketchier.

Find an empty parking lot full of snow and ice. practice. Do sudden stops and stupid sharp turns. This is pretty fun and also teaches you how useless the steering wheel and brakes can be against the mass of the vehicle when it's sliding.

A scraper with a brass blade is the best thing on an icy windshield. Haven't needed mine in 2 years, but still worth having, because it won't scrape the glass, and will clear the ice.

Think twice about driving in road conditions that require chains. It's not just you, it's every vehicle on the road being in treacherous conditions. But own a set, and practice putting them on when the weather is not vile. Someday, you'll need them to get home.

Clear *all* the windows.
Leave extra time.
Slow down.
Assume that every other driver is an inexperienced maniac.
posted by theora55 at 9:16 AM on January 13

Make a car emergency kit. Extra windshield fluid, scraper, jumper cables, hat, gloves, jacket. When I used to drive longer distances in the boonies, I kept extra water, granola bars, blanket, stuff like that.
posted by theora55 at 9:20 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Nthing the suggestions up thread to find an empty parking lot (WITHOUT any obstacles you can slide into) and practice. It will give you a very good feel for what a slide is like, how your vehicle will handle it, and how to get out of it. I try to do this every winter to reacclimate.

I've been driving in Michigan winters for 30 years and have never used winter tires or chains. Sure, if you are going to be on back roads or somewhere that gets a LOT more snow that might be necessary, but for tooling around Madison you should be fine. For my money, ice is the scarier condition than snow. I'd rather drive on the highway with a couple inches of snow, as the snow itself tends to slow down/stop skids. It is ice that is the problem, so be careful, especially if there has been some thawing during the day and you are driving at night/first thing in the morning. They call it black ice for a reason.

Learn how to rock your car to get it out of a drift. Keep some cheap cat litter in your trunk and sprinkle it in front of/behind tires to provide traction.

Above all, take your time and don't worry about keeping up with other drivers, many of whom are idiots who think their massive four-wheel-drive vehicles are indestructible. You can wave when you creep past them as they are in the ditch.
posted by Preserver at 9:41 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

"Whenever people ask this advice, the answers are always the same. Snow tires, tire chains, etc.

I firmly disagree with that advice."

Agreed. You're not on an expedition through the Alaskan backcountry. You'll be in civilization. For everyone talking about -40C, the all-time record low in Madison is -38C. That type temperature, or anything close to it, is just not something you'll have to ever think about. Only rarely will you ever drop below -10C, and you won't have to worry about driving in that because it'll be in the middle of the night when you're asleep.

Don't overstate the amount of snow, either. Madison, on average, gets about 13 inches of snow over ten snowy days in the month of January. That's not nothing, but you're not going to excavating your car out of thigh-high snow, either.

Practically speaking, the biggest inconvenience for me a lot of the time is that my shoes get wet while brushing/scraping off my car because snow drifts up against it. I own a pair of boots, and if I cared more, I would wear them, but... I just don't care. It's really not a big deal.

How do you drive in snow? The same way you should be driving when it's not snowy: with two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road, at or under the speed limit. If snow is falling enough to accumulate, you probably shouldn't drive at all; otherwise, most roads should be plowed, salted, and sanded, and your driving experience will be largely the same as if there were not any snow. You might occasionally encounter sludge or ice, but the latter is generally overstated. It's kind of like how you might occasionally encounter bears or mountain lions when hiking. You should understand what to do if you do encounter either, but don't give yourself panic attacks expecting them to be there.

How do you prepare your car? I back it out of the driveway, I guess. Same as I do when it's not snowing. You don't really need to do anything. If you have some extra cash on hand and comfort is important to you, yeah, you could be some floor mats or something, but you don't need to. The next time you're out driving around, look at all the people around you driving 1991 Geo Metros with oxidized paint. Do you think they own custom floor mats and snow tires? It's entirely possible to drive through a midwestern winter without doing anything notable to your car.

A lot of this preparation is just good car ownership, not anything specific to cold. You should have a set of jumper cables already. You shouldn't let your car get down to E even in nice weather. It's probably a good idea to keep a blanket and some emergency supplies in your trunk regardless.

The one thing you asked about that is actually important is brushing all the snow off your car. It's actually illegal in some places not to. It is fairly dangerous to drive with loose snow, as it could affect the visibility of you or other drivers. In New Hampshire, we have Jessica's Law, named after the victim of an accident in which some ice fell off a moving truck and hit another truck's windshield, causing the second truck to swerve and hit the eponymous Jessica's car. Don't do that. Brushing the snow off the top of your car is easy. If you have the energy to change your damn tires several times a year, you have the energy to brush a little snow off.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:05 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Hello, fellow Sconnie! Allow yourself more time to stop, and more time get where you are going, and you'll have handled half of winter driving. I've been driving in the midwest for 21 winters, including three in Minneapolis, and nearly all in small Japanese cars. Specific answers to questions:

How do you prepare your car for the winter roads? I make sure I clean out all the random crap that could fly around, add a blanket for my kid and for me, make sure my windshield wipers are good for clearing, put the snow brush and a shovel back in the car. I also keep a spare pair of boots and extra hats/mittens in mycar.

And do you use anti-freeze or something? If so, what brand do you recommend? My mechanic takes care of this. If you change your own oil, check your owners manual to see what it recommends for fluid topoff.

Also, what are your window-scraping techniques? Turn on car, put front and rear defoggers on full blast, let snow start melting, scrape. I usually clear the roof and hood first and then this is nice and easy to clear off.

Is it safe to drive with a bunch of snow on top of my car, if I don’t feel like clearing it all off? No. Clear off your snow. You will break someone's windshield otherwise. I'm not going to say my car is 100% clean all the time, but I get most of the snow off all of the time.

Should I be worried about my car battery dying suddenly? Not unless you park outside all the time. Carry jumper cables in your car.

Should I put chains on my tires, or is that *too much*? For living in Madison? Way too much!

Other tips: Get familiar with how traction control works on your car, if you have it. Also get familiar with how your antilock brakes work. The next big snow, head to a mall parking lot or a school parking lot and practice stopping and skidding. If you have a manual transmission, practice going up and down a hill in the snow - it's a little different.

My best advice for driving on the beltline or interstate in the snow is to find a truck going the speed you want, stay 10-12 car lengths behind them, and ignore all the Bubba trucks around you.
posted by notjustthefish at 11:57 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Nth-ing that:

*Get winter tires if you want, and it would be a good idea if you can afford it, but if you're driving in town it likely won't be *necessary* (see below about snow removal)
*Check your tires to see if you've been driving on summer tires so far. Don't do that.
*Until you're used to driving in winter, you just shouldn't be driving anywhere you might be tempted to use chains
*Clear your car roof off
*Slow and steady wins the day
*In most urban/suburban settings in Yankeeland this is really not a big deal, because local government will be tarred and feathered if they fuck up snow removal.
*Keep a good eye on your washer fluid; when that runs out your windscreen can get No Vision Filthy in minutes and finding more at like 10 on Christmas night in Ontario totally blows ASK ME HOW I KNOW

One thing I haven't seen here yet is that if it's actively snowing or the roads are otherwise slickery, only change one thing at a time -- don't try to change direction/lane *and* speed at the same time.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:59 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

I’ve been living in the Midwest for 15 years (California transplant) and have never once put special tires or chains on my little Honda Civic. I try to avoid going anywhere before the roads are cleared, but once they are, you can generally drive around normally, just take it slow and leave plenty of room around you. There have only been a few times there were big problems, like when it was icy and snowy and they hadn’t plowed and I couldn’t even make it up the hill I lived on, I had to find a detour. Or when there was a polar vortex and the weather was so cold the battery died, but so did everyone else’s, and it took AAA like 3 days to come jump-start our car because they were so backed up. (But I used to park outside all the time until last year, and I think the battery only died twice that I can remember, in VERY extreme subzero cold.) Sometimes in bad weather I just take a cab because I don’t want to deal with driving in it. Sometimes walking to get food seems like a safer option in a snowstorm. (Depends where you live, it’s great if you have amenities nearby.) I had to drive hours to a Thanksgiving gathering once and ran into a blizzard on the way, and we just had to drive sloooooooow and careful until we got there, but we did without chains or snow tires.

Personally, I think a dedicated off-street parking space is a must. And covered parking or a garage is AWESOME if you can get it. The worst year was when we didn’t even have a dedicated parking spot, and lived in an area with alternate side parking rules to allow for the snow to be plowed, so I’d have to go out and shovel out my car and then a space across the street (often huge icy masses because of the snowplow pushing all the snow to the side) and re-park my car even if I hadn’t gone anywhere that day. That was also one of the polar vortex times and the battery died when we were leaving for the airport for a two-week vacation, and we were panicking because of the alternate side parking that would result in a daily parking ticket for 2 weeks if we just left the car there and took a cab... but fortunately it finally started just as we were on the phone to AAA.

And yes, always make sure to brush all the snow off, and leave plenty of time to clean your car, shovel your driveway/sidewalk as applicable, and scrape your windows before going anywhere.

Get some lock de-icing spray since occasionally things will get coated in a sheet of ice and you won’t be able to easily open your car. I think I read that rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle does the same thing? And keep a snow brush in your house as well as in the car, because if you open a car that’s covered in snow to get your brush, a bunch of snow will fall into your car and make it wet and gross.

Kitty litter has already been mentioned as useful for traction when you’re stuck; a big piece of cardboard can be good as well. And reading back over my answer, let me add that I highly recommend a AAA membership :)
posted by music for skeletons at 12:36 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

nthing scraper with a metal blade

the parking lot at the apartment complex i lived at in iowa city when i was in grad school was lower than the street and I couldn't get up the driveway when it 1st iced over. AAA told me to lay off the gas and let the earlier momentum carry me up.
posted by brujita at 1:19 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

If you can get it, indoor/underground parking saves so much time, stress, and warmth. One year I rented an underground spot a couple blocks away from my apartment, and it was super worth it despite the additional hassle.

If you don't have indoor parking and a winter storm is coming, and you need to be able to drive, consider moving your car to higher ground or to a parking structure for the night. Occasionally the city opens up a few parking structures for free overnight parking. I think they might announce it on twitter and/or email these days.

I've never had dedicated snow or winter tires (where would I store them??). I just go with all-seasons that are recommended for the climate. New tires make a huge difference, though -- if yours are a little worn out and you're on the fence about when to replace them.

Madison is pretty good at plowing the main roads in the city, but doesn't always have the resources to get to the side streets. I have gotten stuck (or almost stuck, or unable to go up a hill) a few times in the sides streets on the near east. Try to avoid driving during or right after a winter storm.
posted by esker at 8:53 AM on January 14

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