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Old 01-17-2010, 07:35 PM
 
1 posts, read 6,777 times
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I am driving in the snow this this saturday and scared to drive because i will be driving a Toyota Corolla. It has Front wheel drive and i will have snow chains and a couple sand bags in my trunck for weight.. any other advice before i leave? im driving from az to beaver creek Colorado...
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:51 PM
 
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Oh brother, I think you've got some things to learn. First, the sand in your trunk actually is a detriment in a front-wheel drive car--shifting the weight distribution to the undriven rear wheels is the last thing you want to do. If you want to carry something to give you traction if you get stuck, get a bag of kitty litter. It works as well as sand and weighs less.

If your Corolla is a late model one, many of those are equipped with traction control, which makes it a pretty good performer on snowpacked and/or icy roads. BUT, if you have no experience driving on ice or snow, heading to Colorado in a rip-roaring storm is no place to try to learn. It appears that a major winter storm may hit Colorado this coming Saturday, with a lot of its energy directed at southwest Colorado. If so, that could mean bad winter driving conditions potentially all the way from about Flagstaff to Beaver Creek. Or the storm could fizzle out and everything could be fine.

Were I to pick a route from Phoenix to Beaver Creek, it would probably be I-17 to Flagstaff, then US89 north to US160, US160 to US191, then north on US191 to I-70 in Utah, thence east on I-70 to Beaver Creek. This route is the best to avoid high mountain passes. It does travel some pretty lonely, desolate country, including some on the Navajo Indian Reservation, which some people do not find comfortable. It can also get winter conditions, especially around Flagstaff; Monticello, Utah; and east of Rifle, Colorado. Without winter driving experience, you should absolutely avoid the San Juan Mountains in Colorado--they can get especially arduous winter conditions, and US550, in particular, can be a frightening road from Durango to Ouray for flatlanders even under dry storm-free conditions.

As for tire chains, it's fine to carry them, but you'd better practice and know how to put them on and take them off. And know that there are few things more miserable than lying on your back under an ice-encrusted vehicle trying to get those damned chains fastened or unfastened. I haven't chained up a vehicle for highway driving in Colorado for about 25 years now--and I drive the Colorado mountains frequently. But, I subscribe to a simple philosophy: if conditions are bad enough that I need or am required to chain up, I park and wait the storm out, or don't set out to begin with.

You can get Colorado road conditions by dialing 511 in Colorado, or going to Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation on the web. One disturbing thing that I did find out recently about CDOT's road condition reports is that they are not updating conditions from the field--particularly on secondary highways--as frequently as they used to. Budget cuts, you know. That means that the information you get on their road reports may be several hours old. Oh well, at least there are some webcams--when those are up.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:45 PM
 
214 posts, read 1,173,237 times
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Cali, I drive AZ to CO (granted mostly in the summer) many times a year. Given where you are headed the freeway system will do you fine.

Depending upon where in AZ you are coming from you can save over an hour by going through Payson and up to Horlbrook- weather pending there too of course. Flag is ok but waaaay longer if you are coming from the eastern side of PHX. I'm thinking more I-40 to I-25 than that of above. Northern AZ, UT and I-70 would have me thinking more of a schedule here.

As for weather....common sense here. If the local weather in Phoenix predicts snow in "the high country" then put it off for 48hrs. Weather being good, it's not like any of our roads in AZ are snow packed and impassable. Look more to what the forecast for southern CO has to offer! Check reports on road condition 12hrs prior to your travels from Santa Fe to Pueble. This is the area you need to plan for. Raton pass is not really any big thing to deal with but with weather at 10pm depending upon you departure from AZ it could become one. Blowing snow and conditions from Trinidad to Pueblo and CS can be dicey if the local reports are bad.

Think of it this way: if it hits Flag on Wed then it's only going to move to this area on Thursday. Depart on Friday and you'll probably be fine.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:58 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,095,377 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd TCE View Post
Cali, I drive AZ to CO (granted mostly in the summer) many times a year. Given where you are headed the freeway system will do you fine.

Depending upon where in AZ you are coming from you can save over an hour by going through Payson and up to Horlbrook- weather pending there too of course. Flag is ok but waaaay longer if you are coming from the eastern side of PHX.

As for weather....common sense here. If the local weather in Phoenix predicts snow in "the high country" then put it off for 48hrs. Weather being good, it's not like any of our roads in AZ are snow packed and impassable. Look more to what the forecast for southern CO has to offer! Check reports on road condition 12hrs prior to your travels from Santa Fe to Pueble. This is the area you need to plan for. Raton pass is not really any big thing to deal with but with weather at 10pm depending upon you departure from AZ it could become one. Blowing snow and conditions from Trinidad to Pueblo and CS can be dicey if the local reports are bad.

Think of it this way: if it hits Flag on Wed then it's only going to move to this area on Thursday. Depart on Friday and you'll probably be fine.
Let's see--my way, no high passes. Your way, he/she will have to deal with at least one and probably two 11,000 foot passes (depending on if she stays on the Interstate or takes some alternate routes once in Colorado), along with the traffic-choked I-25 from Colorado Springs to Denver and I-70 from Denver to Beaver Creek if she stays on the Interstates--either of which can be an absolute misery in winter conditions with heavy traffic.

I've been driving Colorado's mountain roads--winter and summer--for nearly 40 years now. I know the trouble spots pretty well. I avoid the passes on I-70 as much as possible in the winter--not because they are the worst passes for winter conditions (though they can be tough), but because the road is overrun with complete idiots who can not and do not drive safely for conditions.

And there is a BIG difference between taking a pleasant summer drive in the Colorado mountains, and dealing with arduous winter driving conditions. Doing only the former does make one knowledgeable on doing the latter.
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Old 01-17-2010, 10:20 PM
 
3,460 posts, read 4,790,435 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Oh brother, I think you've got some things to learn. First, the sand in your trunk actually is a detriment in a front-wheel drive car--shifting the weight distribution to the undriven rear wheels is the last thing you want to do.
I've got to disagree with you on that point. They may not be drive wheels, but they do serve an important purpose when you need to stop in a hurry.

Many front wheel drive cars are so light on the rear end that they have a tendency to oversteer on icy corners, especially if you have to get on the brakes. Putting some extra weight over the back tires to get closer to a 50:50 weight distribution seems to improve the handling/braking on slick roads.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Avondale, AZ
1,207 posts, read 4,137,134 times
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I am in Mesa right now and will be driving home to Monument,CO, this week. If the weather looks bad enough than I'll be heading to Las Cruces on I-10, then north on I-25. I normally go up the 'Beeline' thru Payson and Holbrook, but I did that in a snowstorm in spring of '08 and won't try that again. I still shudder when I think about the miles of snow packed I-40 from Albuquerque to Holbrook, then south on 2-lane roads that were barely passable for a low front drive Acura. Even got hit by a small bus that knocked off my back bumper.
Maybe the weather will be more favorable by Saturday. Good luck and be safe.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:04 AM
 
16,167 posts, read 20,176,426 times
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I know that route Jazzlover is suggesting quite well myself. I have friends in the Phoenix area that I visit yearly and that is how I go. Utah's DOT have been doing a little widening here and there on 191 with 2 mile passing lanes and the maintenance has always been good, particularly around Monticello. Moab's elevation is just under 4000 ft. and Monticello's is just over 7000 ft., I believe. It's an easy climb. The Grand Junction area to Phoenix, say I-17 and Bell Rd. is 535 miles.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,888 posts, read 8,901,170 times
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It's very rare to use chains, but if you've already got them there's no point in having them unless you know how to put them on and take them off. Practice with them in your driveway a few times.

But like I said, mostly we don't use them. Even with roads are slick. (Be aware that you should only use chains if you expect several miles worth of snow/ice packed roads. Chains are NOT to be used on dry or wet pavement because they'll tear up your tires and the roads. )

Driving on snow and ice is a matter of driving slowly and carefully. It's also a matter of knowing that when you step on the brakes, you will just slide. Best thing is to practice braking or turning in a rest area or a parking lot. If you happen to get into slick conditions, pull off into a wide paved arae and practice.

If your trip occurs during or just after the forecasted storm, then you can expect the worst part will be in the Colorado portion.
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