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Old 12-10-2018, 12:32 PM   #1
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What do you do when weather catches you on the road.

This question probably only applies to those who travel during winter months.

If you travel between November and April in many parts of the country it's entirely possible that you will have nasty weather suddenly catch you on the road. A sudden temperature drop and you now run into snow between the nice comfortable campground you just left and your next destination. Even though you checked the weather reports and it seemed that the worst you'd encounter was rain, sure enough the first high spot on the highway now has snow and it's sticking.


What's your plan. Just pull over and wait, even if it's just in a wide spot in the road? Push on until you can get off the highway and find a parking lot? Call around for a nearby campground and hope you can get there? Or do you carry chains and just keep going (slowly of course)?

I've been watching the national weather reports and it seems like there is a lot of nasty driving in areas I normally wouldn't associate with snow/ice.

Curious what others have in their "play book" for these sudden weather events.

I know it's easy to say "Just don't start out when you know there's going to be snow and ice" but my years of winter driving have shown that even when you think the highway will be clear and dry because of weather and highway reports, "Mother Nature" can often have other plans. Interstate 5 is a good example of how things can change rapidly in just a few miles. No real mountain passes between Seattle and Ashland, OR but lots of "hills". Miles and miles of bare, dry highway and suddenly you're going up a relatively insignificant hill and everything changes. The relatively small change in altitude puts you in a whole different climate. 10 miles later it's back to normal.
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Old 12-10-2018, 12:54 PM   #2
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We definitely follow the forecast closely, as well as current conditions. As you mention, there can be wild variations within a few miles.

For us, we have quality tires on the tow vehicle and trailer. We do not carry chains. Adjust driving speed to conditions and carry on our way. If conditions warrant, we will change our route or stop sooner than planned.
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Old 12-10-2018, 01:08 PM   #3
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Watch the forecast. This Jan we were in Savannah and were leaving there for Alabama. Got up at ram to put the dog out and the sky was clear. Packed up and left. Hit Brunswick Vs and 34 degrees and rain. Passed 5 accidents on our side of the highway and got to Fl before the freezing rain hit. Class C towing a 20 ft car trailer. Glad I drove truck for 38 years in all kinds of weather. Missed 2 days of Ga under ice!
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:45 PM   #4
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Haven't been caught while actually under way. But couple of times we have woken up in campgrounds covered in too much snow to be towing in...yes, down here in the South.

Luckily, we were able to just remain hunkered down until roads cleared, which usually doesn't take long down here.
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Old 12-10-2018, 04:31 PM   #5
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Being in Colorado, it's easy for it to happen here.

One of my rules for my teenage kids (and myself) during the winter was to have enough clothing to stay warm for at least 2 hours after you put the car in the ditch (without running the engine). My daughter didn't end up in the ditch, but she did get stuck on the edge of the road about 3 miles from home. She follows the rule now without my having to say anything.

We haven't been caught in snow while towing the A-frame yet(!), but sooner or later our luck will run out.

Things I am adamant about as part of being prepared:
1) good snow tires on the tow vehicle;
2) as big a battery (capacity) as I can fit in the tow vehicle, in good condition. Terminals and brackets clean;
3) an emergency kit in the tow vehicle (markers, blankets, flashlights, water, mittens, hats, small snow shovel, ice scraper, boots?);
4) never let the gas get below 1/4 of a tank
5) an attitude of being willing to stop on the side of the road or at an exit if it gets too dangerous to continue. Also, willinginess to spend the night in a town short of our destination and taking an extra day of PTO. Or, willingness to disconnect the camper, and come back and get it another day.

The camper can be replaced. Human beings can't.

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Old 12-10-2018, 07:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgandw View Post
Being in Colorado, it's easy for it to happen here.

One of my rules for my teenage kids (and myself) during the winter was to have enough clothing to stay warm for at least 2 hours after you put the car in the ditch (without running the engine). My daughter didn't end up in the ditch, but she did get stuck on the edge of the road about 3 miles from home. She follows the rule now without my having to say anything.

We haven't been caught in snow while towing the A-frame yet(!), but sooner or later our luck will run out.

Things I am adamant about as part of being prepared:
1) good snow tires on the tow vehicle;
2) as big a battery (capacity) as I can fit in the tow vehicle, in good condition. Terminals and brackets clean;
3) an emergency kit in the tow vehicle (markers, blankets, flashlights, water, mittens, hats, small snow shovel, ice scraper, boots?);
4) never let the gas get below 1/4 of a tank
5) an attitude of being willing to stop on the side of the road or at an exit if it gets too dangerous to continue. Also, willinginess to spend the night in a town short of our destination and taking an extra day of PTO. Or, willingness to disconnect the camper, and come back and get it another day.

The camper can be replaced. Human beings can't.

Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time

All the above and a set of insulated coveralls. If you've ever had to put chains on in bad weather you be glad you had them.
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Old 12-10-2018, 07:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSquirrel View Post
All the above and a set of insulated coveralls. If you've ever had to put chains on in bad weather you be glad you had them.
If not coveralls, a large mat or small tarp.
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A32Deuce View Post
Watch the forecast. This Jan we were in Savannah and were leaving there for Alabama. Got up at ram to put the dog out and the sky was clear. Packed up and left. Hit Brunswick Vs and 34 degrees and rain. Passed 5 accidents on our side of the highway and got to Fl before the freezing rain hit. Class C towing a 20 ft car trailer. Glad I drove truck for 38 years in all kinds of weather. Missed 2 days of Ga under ice!

I probably passed you. I left Savannah 12 hours before snow shut 'em down. I passed Lake City, FL on the way to Orange Beach a few hours before they shut down I-10 due to ice and snow!


Got to Orange Beach and it was 18 degrees a few nights in a row. So much for SNOWBIRDING.

I'm headed to Florida on 20th. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the Bahamas.
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:23 PM   #9
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I cheerfully admit to cowardice. I grew up in snow country (had to wait for the driver's test course to get plowed off to get my 1st license) and spent as much of my youth as I could at ski resorts in VT & NY. I've driven many a mile in snow and know just how quickly things get sideways. But that was 40 & 50 years ago and none of the driving involved a 9000 lb. trailer. Now that my wife (who has never driven in snow) has to do the driving, we will stay south of the snow lines. Should we get caught in snow, we are pulling off and staying put until it is over and gone.
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Old 12-10-2018, 08:30 PM   #10
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Been there and done that.
We were in Moab last February and getting ready to head home to Pittsburgh. Shortest route is I-70 though Colorado. The weather report called for snow in the mountains. We took the longer, safer route down through Albuquerque NM. We still hit a little snow going down to I-10 but I put the truck in 4WD and went slow up over the pass. Even though there was a line behind me on a 4 lane highway, no one passed me until we were on the flat beyond the pass. It took at least a day longer going home, but we made it home safe.
I also carried a small generator in the bed of the truck to charge the trailer batteries in case we had to boondock for a couple of days.
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