Monday Snow Stroll (copy)

Walkers enjoy a stroll around Culler Lake in Baker Park as a steady snow continued to fall in February of 2021.

Three to four inches of snow are expected to fall on Frederick County Thursday night into Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Worst case scenario, according to meteorologist Chesnea Skeen, the county is hit with six inches. At the very least, we'll see about one inch.

Skeen said predictions show snowfall starting in the extreme western part of the county between 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday. The remainder of the county should see snow starting between 9 and 11 p.m. Thursday. The snow should move out by 4 or 5 a.m. Friday, according to Skeen.

Early-morning drivers will want to proceed with caution Friday.

“Anything that’s frozen and on the roads will likely stay that way," Skeen said.

Frederick's high temperature is estimated to be 39 degrees Thursday, with a low of 24. Skeen said the high for Friday is 31 degrees.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller 

(10) comments

mrnatural1

There was no "+ Add Reply" button. I'll bet with all of the additional subscription money Ogden is sitting on over in Wheeling, they could afford some basic FORUM software...

On Jan 8, 2022 @ 10:03am, MD1756 wrote:

"Momentum is your best friend for hill climbing. If there is a car in front of you, allow the gap to grow so you can see if they know how to make it up the hill otherwise you'll get stuck right behind them if something goes wrong. I let them get out of the way (or stuck) then I slowly accelerate as much as I think I need for momentum to carry me up the hill as I slowly let off the gas to prevent the wheels from spinning as I climb the hill. Did that and pulled into the oncoming lane (since no one was within sight) and passed a car ahead of me that got stuck because they were going too slow when they approached the hill and stopped about 3/4 of the way up. Today, I think people don't know how to put their vehicles in low gear especially for going downhill to prevent the car from gaining too much speed and skidding from too much brake to slow the car down (although anti-lock brakes are better than the old brakes)."

~

Good point about momentum -- that's absolutely true.

ABS is definitely better than ordinary brakes in almost all situations. An exception is off-road on loose dirt and gravel, but needless to say that's rare for most drivers.

As for engine braking going downhill, that is a good idea, especially when driving in the mountains. However, it's not always advisable in snow/ice because the drive wheels can lock up -- the force required to turn the engine over is greater than the limited traction will allow. In that scenario, ABS is of no use. In order to keep the wheels rotating to maintain directional control, it's best to be in a higher gear (or 'Drive') or even neutral in extreme circumstances.

One example: I was driving home one night on I-370 w/b, approaching 270. There is a gentle left hand curve before the ramp to 270 n/b. As I entered the curve, I noticed my car was continuing straight (toward the right shoulder), not responding to steering input. Hitting the brakes didn't help, because I was on black ice -- all 4 tires locked up at once, fooling the ABS (if all 4 are at the same speed, zero in this case, the ABS is happy). I was doing just 30 mph in a high gear -- 4th or 5th -- so I did not think engine braking would be enough to lock the front tires. At that point I was on the shoulder, fast approaching the guardrail. In a last-ditch effort I depressed the clutch pedal, and immediately got enough steering back that I was able to gradually guide the car back into the travel lane. In short, in those conditions, just that tiny amount of engine braking as enough to lock up the front tires and eliminate all steering control.

That is an extreme scenario. Usually the ABS will work as designed. Although in that case I described I still would have had to disengage the clutch.

mrnatural1

Quote:

"Early-morning drivers will want to proceed with caution Friday."

Everyone who owns an AWD or 4WD vehicle can completely ignore that advice! Just drive normally. AWD/4WD allows you to disregard the laws of physics. Yee-haw!

Also, don't worry about the type of tires that are on your car, or what condition they're in. Summer, "all-season", or winter -- all tires are black, round, and made of rubber, am-I-rite?

In all seriousness, while it's too late for this storm, true winter tires really do make a big difference. It's most convenient to buy them already mounted and balanced on dedicated wheels.

Another option is Michelin Cross-Climate tires. They are intended for year-round use, but have the "3 peak mountain & snowflake" (3PMSF) symbol. They meet the snow traction requirement of a winter / snow tire. There are few if any other tires like that. Almost all tires with the 3PMSF symbol are intended for cold weather use only. CR rates them 'excellent' for snow traction, and 'good' for ice braking. Some dedicated winter tires may be even better on ice & snow, but the Cross-Climate tires are rated 'excellent' or 'very good' across-the-board. Most winter tires have only 'fair' ratings in some other categories, like wet braking.

Also -- when SAFE to do so -- it is good idea to periodically do a gentle 'brake check' to determine how much traction your tires have. It's easy to get over-confident when driving on a straight road, only to hit the brakes and have your car seem to not slow down at all. D'oh!

AWD/4WD does not improve braking, cornering, or emergency handling. In addition, some so-called "AWD" systems are really only ONE (1) wheel drive. If just one tire has no traction, it will spin and the other 3 will remain stationary. Ask me how I know. There is a HUGE difference in AWD/4WD systems.

Don't be "that driver" who gets stuck or causes a wreck and shuts down an interstate highway for hours -- trapping hundreds or thousands of people in their cars.

MD1756

Remember the days when people would buy studded snow tires or those who didn't buy studded snow tires put chains on their tires? I bet very few who have to drive in bad weather around here now uses either any more. Unfortunately they do think 4WD is all they need. Skills can go a long way for driving in snow but very little helps on ice besides stud or chains and even then they only help so much.

mrnatural1

Absolutely right MD.

I'm retired from Metro. There were no "snow days". If it was a scheduled work day you had to be there. I had a base model (2WD) 1985 Toyota pickup. I used to toss about 350-400 lbs of weight in the back and put chains on. That thing would go just about anywhere. There were times the snow as so deep that it would hit the grill and fly up on the windshield. That little truck was just about unstoppable.

Luckily, I worked evening shift, so I avoided most of the insanity -- because a person could/can commute in a Snow Cat and still get stuck due to "moron factor" (MF). An example of MF might be a person with high-performance 'summer' tires on their car (they turn to plastic when cold) who gets stuck or wrecks on a 2-lane road trapping everyone behind them. Purely avoidable stuff.

The tire mfrs and vendors claim that some winter tires are "as good as" studded tires. I suppose it depends upon the conditions. Each stud does prevent a certain amount of the tread around it from making contact with the pavement, so they are likely worse at wet and dry braking. OTOH, intuitively, they almost have to be better on packed snow and ice -- particularly if the tires are otherwise identical. Around here, where the roads are typically clear most of the time, I've always figured true "winter tires" are best -- but up north where they are driving on snow and ice more than clear pavement, studded tires might be the way to go.

My wife and I have 2 older "AWD" vehicles -- a 2002 WRX and a 1997 RAV4. Each have about 200K miles. The AWD in the WRX is just lame. To twist the Subaru slogan: "From the wheels that grip to the wheels that slip." For example, I parked on a slight incline on our lane to close the gate. I got back in, put it in 1st, let out the clutch and...nothing. No forward motion. In fact, I started rolling *backwards*! It turned out that 1 rear tire was on ice and the other 3 were on dry blacktop! I did some testing to confirm how pathetic the "AWD" as/is and then took it to the Frederick Motor Company where they verified my test results. A new (~2004/05) WRX acted the same. To be fair, other Subaru models are better -- they have several different systems.

My wife's RAV4 has a locking center diff (essentially 4-wheel high) and a Torsen rear diff. So 3 tires have to be spinning (2 rear, 1 front) before you're stuck. However, the automatic version of the AWD RAV4 was just one (1) wheel drive. We test drove one at Frederick Toyota and it would not move off of the grass beside the showroom because the right front tire was spinning!

Buyer beware.

vjhughes

My son used to say “Four wheel drive doesn’t mean four wheel stop. You still have to drive sensibly.”

mrnatural1

Your son is very wise.

Part of the problem is how "AWD" vehicles are advertised. They are typically shown being driven way too fast for the conditions -- and then perhaps there will be a tiny disclaimer flashed on the screen: "Professional driver, closed course, do not attempt."

Back in reality, all AWD/4WD vehicles should be driven *exactly* the same as any other vehicle.

AWD only helps with acceleration and hill climbing.

MD1756

Momentum is your best friend for hill climbing. If there is a car in front of you, allow the gap to grow so you can see if they know how to make it up the hill otherwise you'll get stuck right behind them if something goes wrong. I let them get out of the way (or stuck) then I slowly accelerate as much as I think I need for momentum to carry me up the hill as I slowly let off the gas to prevent the wheels from spinning as I climb the hill. Did that and pulled into the oncoming lane (since no one was within sight) and passed a car ahead of me that got stuck because they were going too slow when they approached the hill and stopped about 3/4 of the way up. Today, I think people don't know how to put their vehicles in low gear especially for going downhill to prevent the car from gaining too much speed and skidding from too much brake to slow the car down (although anti-lock brakes are better than the old brakes).

DickD

Thank you for the update on the amount of snow. Good to know and Google doesn't tell you that.

vodalone

Being a meteorologist has to be the easiest science based job out there lol

public-redux

I used to know one of the meteorologists who was an on-air personality for The Weather Channel. I asked him once about that. Something like “doesn’t mostly sunny with a chance of precipitation pretty much guarantee success?” He was appropriately miffed. But seriously, he said the real competition in the field had to do with more detailed accuracy. How much snow and when? And how accurate was the 5day forecast. He told me that the public hadn’t noticed that 5 day forecasts had become as accurate as 2 day forecasts had been a generation earlier.

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