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Old 11-08-2017, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Willowbend/Houston
13,403 posts, read 20,296,728 times
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Hello,

I have to make the drive in a few weeks from Anchorage to Fairbanks. As you can see I live in Houston and snow is not a thing here. I have very limited experience driving in snow.

Given this, should I anticipate any problems?
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Old 11-08-2017, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Deltana, AK
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Flights between the two are pretty cheap. Do that if you have the option. Lots of us make remote drives up here in the winter, and it's often no big deal. But it's a long way between services, cell towers, tow trucks, and hospitals, so not somewhere I'd want to learn to drive in the snow.

If you do drive, make sure you have winter tires, and a survival kit to get you through a night at -50 if you break down. And be prepared to delay your trip at least a day or two for bad weather or bad road conditions.
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Old 11-08-2017, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Willowbend/Houston
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Unfortunately, I dont have a choice. I have to drive at least one way. I can fly one way back.

Given that, I had planned to get an SUV and drive during the day. Im hoping that will help.
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Old 11-08-2017, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
16,174 posts, read 27,449,163 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboys fan in Houston View Post
Unfortunately, I dont have a choice. I have to drive at least one way. I can fly one way back.

Given that, I had planned to get an SUV and drive during the day. Im hoping that will help.
You should be fine with an AWD SUV or truck, but check the long term road weather forecast from Anchorage though Denali park area before you leave. For example, a storm front is moving toward the interior this weekend.

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick...2#.WgN3R7aZO8o

The Denali Headquarters in within the forecast area:
National Weather Service Watch Warning Advisory Summary
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Old 11-08-2017, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Anchorage
279 posts, read 121,189 times
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Check this website out before you head out:


Alaska 511 - Transportation & Public Facilities, State of Alaska.


If it hasn't snowed in a while right before your trip the road will be fairly clear, although it will likely have icy stretches. If it is good and cold the ice isn't too much of a problem. No abrupt moves and you'll be fine.


If it has recently snowed, or is in the process of snowing, it can be a challenge. Between everything being white and blowing snow, you can't tell where the road is at. An oncoming semi can immediately blot out the entire world for a few moments. Me, being a typical Alaskan, will keep driving despite not being able to see. Usually towing a trailer. You, should consider exercising better judgment in those conditions and wait it out.


There's plenty of places for gas until you reach the Talkeetna cutoff (mile 98). I'd get gas there. If you are hungry, I'd get a sandwich at the Subway there too. After that, your next chance for gas (and gas station food) will be Cantwell. I rarely drive north of Cantwell so don't have any tips from there to Fairbanks other than it's only a couple more hours.
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Old 11-08-2017, 06:35 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
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The roads are actually better in the interior when it's super duper cold. Because there's so little moisture surfaces are less slippery. You need good tires, a reliable vehicle, winter gear sufficient to sustain you for at least a day at extreme temperatures, and someone who will come looking for you if you don't check in in a timely fashion.

If you're not a big winter driver, spend some time on ice and snow practicing correcting spins, testing out sudden stops, etc. ahead of time in a safe environment (both in terms of there being nothing to hit, and in terms of there being no risk of arrest, lol).

Take it as slow as necessary for visibility. Your biggest dangers are animals in the road and other drivers so drive defensively. Do what you need to do to keep yourself alert. Probably the best thing you can do for yourself is get very good sleep before you go.
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:04 PM
 
Location: NP
607 posts, read 851,050 times
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You say that you will drive "during the day." Be aware that there isn't very much "day" this time of year. By November 20th the sunrise is close to 10 AM and sunset around 330 PM.
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:09 PM
 
489 posts, read 324,995 times
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The drive will be fine. And with what little daylight you have, it will also be beautiful. The biggest issue you may run into is it could be FREEZING. 40 below freezing. Have clothes for the weather, including a covering for your face, and get a car with a block heater.
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:27 PM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
16,174 posts, read 27,449,163 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frostnip View Post
The roads are actually better in the interior when it's super duper cold. Because there's so little moisture surfaces are less slippery. You need good tires, a reliable vehicle, winter gear sufficient to sustain you for at least a day at extreme temperatures, and someone who will come looking for you if you don't check in in a timely fashion.

If you're not a big winter driver, spend some time on ice and snow practicing correcting spins, testing out sudden stops, etc. ahead of time in a safe environment (both in terms of there being nothing to hit, and in terms of there being no risk of arrest, lol).

Take it as slow as necessary for visibility. Your biggest dangers are animals in the road and other drivers so drive defensively. Do what you need to do to keep yourself alert. Probably the best thing you can do for yourself is get very good sleep before you go.
Agree with you, Frostnip. If the weather holds there is a good chance that we won't see -20 within a couple of weeks. If so, I would worry more about heavy snow falls and icy roads through Denali and Healy. My oldest daughter drove numerous times from Elmendorf to Fairbanks on a fairly new Honda Civic.

She did have two problems (different occasions): one time as she was getting close to the igloo not too far from Cantwel, and truck with trailer going in the opposite direction blew a bunch of snow on her car; she was in a white-out for a couple of seconds, and could not slow down fast enough to see ahead. The car slid into the snow bank, but it was fine, with no damage. The other time she was driving on a clear day, but the road on the hills near Fairbanks (on this side of Nenana), was icy. She was moving too fast for conditions, and slid a few feet off the road. The trooper gave her a ticket and called a tow truck to pull her car out, and we had to drive out and bring her home The car got a very dented door and a broken windshield, so we had it towed to a local body shop.

Last edited by RayinAK; 11-08-2017 at 08:41 PM..
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
5,846 posts, read 6,032,781 times
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Lack of daylight will be an issue. Given the time of year you will either start or end (or maybe both) the trip while it is dark out. From Anchorage to Wasilla it is not too bad as it is a 4 lane highway. You are going against the morning commute traffic but much of the highway is divided. After Wasilla the highway is two lane. Depending how early you hit this stretch of highway you could be staring into a non-stop line of headlights for the next 30 miles. After you pass Willow traffic thins out a whole bunch. I personally prefer to deal with the dark and oncoming headlights at the beginning of the trip rather than the end.

Even if the road looks bare and dry don't let your guard down. Frost tends to fill in the cracks and pores in the road making it actually slippery. You will probably also see stretches of hard packed snow on the road. You could also encounter snow and freezing rain. Then again you might have truly have bare and dry road all the way.

I am guessing you will be driving a rental car. In Alaska rental cars tend to have more miles put on them. Be sure the tires still have plenty of good tread on them.
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