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Old 08-14-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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Hi all,
I may be relocating to the Bozeman area and I hear the winters around Bozeman can be pretty rough. I was just wondering what is a typical winter like out there? I'm from the Chicago area and lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for several years so I'm accustom to some snow and ice. Also how are the roads/drivers during the winter? (Chicago drivers are horrible) I'm looking to most likely live outside of Bozeman and commute in to work, are there any specific issues I should be aware of with this? (i drive a 4wheel drive pick-up).
Thanks
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Old 08-14-2010, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
6,488 posts, read 7,607,717 times
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Is Minnesota close enough? Think upper MI plus spring thaw 10 times each winter. So less snow accumulation, more potholes. In my experience most Bozeman-acclimated drivers are pretty good, tho I expect there are more "winter adventures" now that there's a big influx of southerners just learning about ice and snow.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:42 AM
 
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Default Bozeman vs. Chicago Winters

In Montana, expect a much longer and colder winter. I heard that it was snowing even up until June this year (however, that is more rare), but one will often see snow up until April or May in Montana. Spring is a pretty short term event, whereas the seasons in Illinois tend to change almost immediately during the solstices and equinoxes.

I was in Bozeman a few weeks ago, and I was amazed at how EASY the driving was. Low traffic, drivers were calm. Granted, the university students weren't around, but traffic was still a breeze compared to Chicago (even the suburbs are hectic compared to Bozeman). The drivers tend to be smarter about snow, but it still will take at least one good snowfall to remind people that they can't slam on the breaks two feet in front of the stop sign.

One thing that Montana doesn't get that Illinois does have is freezing rain. During my first year or few in Illinois, I was quite perplexed by the sheet of ice covering my car. However, you will want to get a block heater for your car since Montana winters can get quite cold. I have rarely seen Illinois winters drop below 0 F, whereas a nasty spell in Montana it can go for a week (or more) and not break 0.

Unless you have a reason to live outside of town, I'd recommend that you live in Bozeman. Some people commute the ~10 miles from Belgrade, and that has struck me as pretty nutty driving during the winter.

However, Chicago weather really put me down this past winter. It was so drab and cloudy during so much of the winter that I was really getting depressed. I lived in Bozeman for 7 years, and I NEVER felt like that.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Portland, TX. (next to Corpus Christi)
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I would take a Montana winter any day over a midwest or Great Lakes winter. I lived in Montana (Helena area) for around 20 years, and even though some of the winters were quite cold, they don't have the humidity, or the freezing rain issues you have in other areas of the country. Southwest Montana is also in a unique area that sometimes misses the brunt of the Artic airmasses that come sliding on down. Most of the time, under the colder conditions, skies will be sunny, and winds will be light if blowing at all. This allows for the roads to melt fairly quick, even if nothing else melts.

For the most part, seasoned drivers in Montana rarely have problems with the snow or hardpacked conditions. Sometimes, the first snows can cause a bit of delay, but thats about as bad as I have seen. Engine block heaters are a must. When I first moved down here to Texas, people down here thought I had an electric car, because I had a plug hanging out of the front of my car (this was in 1995)!


Ian
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
6,488 posts, read 7,607,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txsizzler View Post
Engine block heaters are a must. When I first moved down here to Texas, people down here thought I had an electric car, because I had a plug hanging out of the front of my car (this was in 1995)!
Been asked the same thing... yep, I gotta plug that old pickup in once in a while or it just plumb forgets about things like lights. Here's your sign.
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Arm pit of the world Lancaster CA
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Please be kind in the answer for this question,
How does the plug for winter work? Do you run an extension cord from the house to the car? Does it cook all night long? My truck has the block plug, yeah, just not sure of the rules to do this.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,043 posts, read 23,016,546 times
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Depends on what you actually have. If it is a plug in the block, it could possibly be a freeze plug heater. You'll want to run it all night.

If it is a typical block heater, it's a heat pump that hooks into water hose. It heats up the water and circulates it. Then it depends on how strong of a unit it is. A big unit can heat the engine up to operating temp (for the unti) in an hour. A smaller unit takes longer. On my truck, because it takes only an hour, I put a timer on my extension cord so it only kicks on about 4am. It's plenty warm by the time I want to go anywhere.

If your vehicle is 10 years old or younger, you don't need a block heater to start your vehicle. because of fuel injecting and computer controls, a block heater really doesn't do anything for starting. But it does heat up the coolant system so when you get in in the morning and start your car, it's already at a temp sufficient to give you warm air almost immediately.

The old cast blocks needed time to warm up and allow all the parts to expand and fit nicely. With the new alloy's used in engine blocks, that's no longer the case. You used to have to allow a car to warm up before you dropped it in gear and went anywhere. Now days, you can start a car, make sure it's got good oil pressure (1-2 minutes) and go. Of course, you'll freeze your butt off.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
6,488 posts, read 7,607,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElkHunter View Post
The old cast blocks needed time to warm up and allow all the parts to expand and fit nicely. With the new alloy's used in engine blocks, that's no longer the case. You used to have to allow a car to warm up before you dropped it in gear and went anywhere. Now days, you can start a car, make sure it's got good oil pressure (1-2 minutes) and go. Of course, you'll freeze your butt off.
The warmup period was for oil circulation tho, not for metal expansion.

And my mechanic would take issue with that statement about alloys... when a part heat-warps or fractures from repeated temperature changes, it's almost always a part made of the newfangled alloys. Part of the problem is that there are a bunch of different alloys in use, and they all have different expansion coefficients... and then there are the plastics fitted next to metal, same problem in spades.

So... I contend that it's better to keep the whole engine to as near a stable temp as possible, rather than letting it deep-freeze and have to thaw out every single day -- and that for overall longevity, this is probably more important now than ever.
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Old 01-26-2011, 11:55 PM
 
Location: bzn
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Winters are harsh in Bozeman in the sense that it can be -15 (below) and sunny one day, turn around and thaw into a slushtastic mess at 40, or be grey and no precipitation for 2 weeks. I use wellies, sneakers, and snowboots in equal measure all winter long. There are days when you have to wear ski goggles to walk cuz your eyeballs are freezing...

...and there are nice, sunny, chilly days good for skiing, cross country, snow shoeing or hardpack hiking.

As for driving, we come prepared. Even ****box vehicles tend to get snowtires here, and most people have appropriate vehicles for wintertime, or at least throw sandbags in the back of the truck for extra traction. The city plows aggressively...so while you may have to un-dig your car if you park on the street, you can also drive on cleared roads shortly after a snowstorm. People go a little slower for safety, but I don't notice too many wild and crazy driving antics. If you do get stuck, random strangers push you out.

Yes, block heaters will save your life if you don't have a heated garage. It plugs in with an extension cord (mine runs out one side of the apartment building and across the sidewalk to my street-parked car) and your car will start up quickly with warm air coming out of the vents. Really only necessary for older cars.

Hope that helps!
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Old 01-27-2011, 07:22 AM
 
Location: In The Outland
6,038 posts, read 6,864,914 times
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I have found that unless your rig is in a semi heated garage such as an attached one when it gets super cold you aren't going anywhere but on foot.
The reason is that even if your engine will start if you have summer gear lube in the pumpkins and transfer case the grease will be so thick you may not be able to drive at all. When it gets that cold some times the tires will bump with a flattish spot until they warm up. I never switch out gear lube from winter to summer but some folks do.
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